End of the School Year Parties

Permanent link to: Can you Add Excitement to Chores

I’m not sure about you but in our household we are counting down the days until the end of the school year. Regardless of whether the thought of summer brings cheers or stress, I suspect you too have that count-down going! Regardless of what your summer plans are and how you plan to maintain your family’s sanity, I believe the end of the year is cause for celebration!

It doesn’t matter if it’s, “we made it out alive or you rocked it academically” you should take the time to celebrate it. There is no need to run to the craft store for decorations or withdraw money to pay for the celebration – it doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive to be fun.

Here are a few parties we’ve had that have worked just fine.

  1. Movie Marathon – PJ’s required.  Pick a theme that your child enjoys – for us it was Harry Potter. Rent two or three movies (or record them in advance off cable TV) and require PJ’s or “themed attire” for admission. Order a $5 pizza and grab a couple bags of chips and cookies (I always go for the cheap and easy). Throw a bunch of blankets and pillows down in the living room and let the fun begin.
  2. Have your own field day in the park. Invite your child’s friends to bring nerf guns and water guns and you supply the water balloons. In order to boost the fun and expand the challenge, do it as the sun is setting. Field days will guarantee you two things: a TON of laughter and kids who will sleep through the night and late into the next day!
  3. Salon Makeovers – Set up stations for hair, makeup and nails. Let the girls help each other as they listen to music and get glammed for a night on the town. Find a free concert or movie in the park and take your glammed up girls along with a cheap pizza or drive-through and let them strut their stuff over a picnic. We did this at an outdoor mall having a free concert and we had to drag the girls (in their dresses and fancy faces) out of the venue.

School is stressful and hard for kids and parents alike so take the time to celebrate the end of another year and toast to a successful summer that will come and go quickly.

Parent Judging

Teaching-Children-How-to-Save-Money[1]

Unless you’ve been too busy to turn on the news, I’m sure you’ve seen the recent articles on the mom who, in a moment of disappointment, tossed her children’s ice cream cones in the trash. Seems they forgot to say thank you (I suspect this wasn’t the first time) and mom wanted to teach them a lesson.

Since this story aired, a few other “like-minded” stories have also posted and have been hit with an insane amount of criticism, especially on social media. It seems that the rise of social media has given people permission to throw out opinions about other people’s lives based upon a 100 word article or 30 second segment. It seems we as parents have now become experts at raising other people’s children and determining what is best for them. Even better, is that we have are now identified ourselves as social driven journalists who must share our wisdom far and wide. The result is this: lots of half-truths, misunderstandings and ultimately families devastated by the personal attacks.

I’ve spent time reflecting on all of this and can’t help but wonder….

  1. What if rather than criticize, we stepped in and helped. What if rather than rolling our eyes and condemning a mom (be honest we’ve all done it) at the store when her child goes into full-blown meltdown, we stepped in and distracted the child by a smile or goofy face (note – I did this last night at the mall and the child totally perked up at my daughter playing peek-a-boo with her).
  2. What if the next time we hear the rumor about a lady in our community who threw the ice cream in the trash, we responded by saying I’m sure there is more to the story and she had a reason, would the rumor mill be shut down quicker?
  3. What if the next time we heard the story (and we knew the mom) we dropped them a note of encouragement, bought them a cup of coffee and showed support for them as a mom and human being, how would our perspective (and theirs) change?

Parenting is hard. It doesn’t come with a handbook and on most days you just hope your mistakes don’t land your child in counseling. It’s time we start encouraging and supporting one another – I know we’ve all had days where we could use it.

Importance of Family Dinners

 

Mealtime

We love sitting down together as a family for meals but it seems as the kids have gotten older and schedules have become crazier, this has become a challenge. We love it because it is often the only uninterrupted time in our day to connect with them, learn what’s going on and share our lives. It has always been meaningful to us but a recent article recently reminded me of just how important this time is.

Did you know:

  • The #1 shaper of vocabulary in younger children (more than any other family activity) is dinner.
  • One of the best ways to promote healthy habits and avoid obesity is eating together as a family.
  • One of the biggest predictors in academic success for elementary age kids is frequent family meals around the table.
  • Critical to raising emotionally healthy teens, free of alcohol and substance abuse is sharing a meal.

Seems oversimplified that 30 minutes around the table can have such a profound impact but all the research is pointing to exactly that. It allows you to emotionally connect as a family, free from distractions (did I mention NO TECHNOLOGY at the table?). It allows you to hear about their day, give them guidance in working through conflicts and other issues (you will be surprised how much you learn when you stop and really listen). Although they may not always act like it, when kids were surveyed, eating as a family ranked at the top of their list in terms of importance.

So how do you get started, especially if you don’t have a lot of time?

  1. Remove all technology distractions including TVs.
  2. Give everyone an opportunity to talk about their day with open ended questions like what was the best thing that happened today or what stressed you out more than anything else today. Simply asking how their day was will be a very short question.
  3. Talk about current events and ask your kids their opinions and really listen.

Eating together doesn’t require a three-course meal. It can be a can of soup and a 30-minute conversation. Challenge yourself to two nights a week. I promise you will find yourself wanting to do it even more.

Helping your Kids Eliminate Test Anxiety

If your kids are like mine, they are in the throws of state standardized testing.  Testing that has likely left them frazzled, exhausted and counting down the days until summer.  So, how to do you keep them and us from falling apart during this crazy time?

eliminating test anxiety

  1. Clear the schedule as much as possible (yours and theirs).  Unless it is mandatory, remove it from the evening schedule.  Kids need to go into testing well rested and a busy evening can almost guarantee that won’t happen.  Instead of running the family ragged, play a board game, go to the park or watch a funny movie.  This will allow them to go to bed relaxed rather than stressed.   
  2. This is obvious but sometimes easy to push aside – a good breakfast with protein.  They can return to their cereals packed full of sugar next week.  They need brainpower this week.   Eggs, meat, oatmeal or peanut butter are a few of the options to choose from.  Oh, make sure you let your kids know you feeding them a brainpower breakfast.  Just them thinking they’ve eaten something that will make them smart gives them a boost of confidence going into the test.
  3. Keep it in perspective.  Trust me, your kids know how important these tests are.  Their teachers have ensured this.  Spend your evenings talking with your kids about their strengths, what makes them awesome and how much it will help them in life.  A good portion of the stress from these tests comes as a result of pure old-fashioned test anxiety.  They fear being labeled a failure.  Anything you can do to boost their confidence going into the test will go a long way.  

Kids play off of our emotions and when it comes to academics, this is particularly true when it comes to testing.  So celebrate their efforts with an ice cream cone after school or a picnic in the living room and toss aside the stress and strain that would otherwise dominate.

 

Top 4 Spring Time Activities

I love spring!  It seems to inspire everyone to introduce activity into their lives.  We usually start with the spring-cleaning, but let’s be honest, a person can only clean for so long before you just need to have some fun.  But fun typically costs and when you have a big family, you often feel like you’ve been sized out of the fun department.  

parenting ideas for spring

Here are a few family fun outings that won’t break the bank but are sure to bring you some great memories.

  1. Free Family Nights at Your Local Museum.  Most museums (children’s museums included) have one night a month where they offer free admission for families.  Typically they coordinate and spread them out so you could, in theory, hit a different free evening every week.  
  2. Road trip to a historical location nearby.  The costs associated with historical sites are usually low and provides learning and fun all wrapped into one.  Make it a little more interesting by making up stories about the people that lived or worked in these buildings.  Build stories about them as a group.
  3. Camp-out…. In your backyard complete with hotdogs, smores and late night ghost stories.  Some of my best memories from my childhood come from such evenings.  
  4. Explore the great outdoors.  No matter where you live, there is likely someplace to hike – be it desert, mountain or plains.  As a family, research what animals or plants are most prevalent and then have a contest to see who can identify the most items on the list – think part scavenger hunt, part exercise.  

Building memories and spending time as a family doesn’t have to be expensive.  In fact, you may be surprised to know what some of your kids fondest memories are.  We’ve taken our kids on all sorts of great trips – from Europe to Canada to the Caribbean and yet their favorite trip we ever took was doing community service and staying in campsites and cheap hotels.   I suspect this is because we were all fully present in the moment… and isn’t that what it’s really all about?

Having Your First Kid Graduate

graduation, parenting

We’ve hit that milestone in our family that I’ve been dreading…the first set of graduation announcements from the friends my daughter has grown up with.  As I reflect on the many great memories I have of these kids growing up, I also can reflect on what I’m thankful I did and what I wish I had done differently.  For those of you who have a few more years with your kids, I hope this is valuable.  For those in the same boat as me, maybe it gives you solace knowing you aren’t the only one.

What I did right.

Make the memories.

I made sure our house was the house kids wanted to come and endured the inconveniences that came with it.  Yes this meant being confined to my bedroom a time or two as the living room was transformed into a fort, city or some other structure but the laughter and memories made far exceed the frustration of a few hours in my room.   It also meant my kitchen looked like an F5 tornado had run through it a time or two but many of the girls to this day will ask when they can come over and bake cookies (aka get into a flour fight with each other).   

What I wish I would have done differently.

Be present.

More times than I care to count, I was physically present but mentally somewhere else… and she knew it.  There were times when I would ask her to repeat herself only to hear “nevermind” or “forget about it” in frustration.  I wonder how many of those moments were teaching moments that I lost in providing her the many bits of wisdom I remember my mom sharing with me.  Even in those rare moments when I simply couldn’t focus, I should have taken the time to “schedule time” for us to talk.

As I listen to she and her friends reminisce about their childhood, I’m learning that the memories and the time together are what they cherish the most.  It’s amazing how much those bike rides or walks to the park mean to them, more than the fancy restaurants or extravagant trips in some respects.  
Time is a precious gift that you can give to your child so laugh a little, get things a little messy and listen.

Spring Time Chores

cleaning with kids

Spring time is a one of the best times of the year to reinforce the habit of doing chores. Even kids can be energized for spring cleaning, and if a chore chart is already being implemented in your household this is the perfect time of year to change it up and add some deep cleaning to your list.

Remember when giving out chores to kids at younger ages to be very specific and have realistic expectations.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Have them go through their toy bins and pick the toys they no longer play with to donate to charity. Give them some sort of visual representation of how many toys they need to get rid of. Tell them that they’re toy bin cannot be overflowing, that (if it has one) the lid must be able to shut all the way.  
  • Follow our guide for emptying out their closets in the funnest way possible one of our last postings.
  • Working along side of your children, especially the younger ones is a great way to model behavior and keep the day fun for both of you.

Now that you have them working be sure to, reward them in new, exciting ways relating to spring!

  • Take up gardening with them as your aid! Make it a tradition to tend the garden after all the chores are done in the house.
  • Expand your family’s taste buds by cooking with your little one a few nights a week after everything’s picked up. Let them pick out dishes to try online or just ask them for a few ideas for dinner.
  • Reward them with a craft of their choice! Teach them the joys of finishing an activity, have them pick one from Zingity and work together to finish it!

Kidpreneur Invents Candy that is Good for You!

Alina Morse is now 10, but at the age of 7 invited the candy that was served just last week at the White House Easter Egg Roll.

Her idea was to create a candy that was good for your teeth. This new candy is called Zollipops and it helps reduce the risk of  tooth decay and neutralize acid found in the mouth after a meal.

Child Inventor

“Our business is doing really good right now,” she says. “Our company sales were up 378 percent year over year and we expect to triple in our sales this year.”

Her success story is a good reminder to believe in our kids ideas, even when they say something that could seem a bit wacky like, “Dad what if candy was good for you?” Encourage them to explore, learn and create! Who knows you might have a future entrepreneur and inventor in your hands.

Her friends are her main taste testers, so you can bet Zollipops are kid approved!

Spring Cleaning Our Closets

Every spring greets us with the reminder that it is once again time to clean out those closets (and all the other great hiding spots our kids use to stash their clothes).
Around our house, our kids have outgrown a few of their clothes that were perfect just last summer.  A task my daughter dreads more than a dentist trip, is spending an afternoon going through her closet and trying on all her clothes to figure out what needs to be gifted to someone a few inches shorter.

Going through clothes

Not everyone will have this much fun going through old clothes.

So, how can you turn this process into something fun?  How can trying on clothes for hours be looked at with something other than dread?
Make it a runway spectacular.
After trying on everything and identifying that give-away pile, have a fashion show. Give those clothes one last wear as your kids creatively mix and match those styles (the wackier the better) for an energy-filled fashion-forward experience.
Let your daughter wear her ugly brown PJ bottoms with a sassy hot pink tank and some torn-up sneakers. Throw on a raincoat and a scarf and you are to the runway. Make sure and take lots of pics. You can bring them out during next year’s runway prep time. Judge the outfits and crown a winner before placing them in the never to be seen again pile.

Spring cleaning, donating old clothes

This is from one of our fashion shows!

Let them be part of the give-away process.  
Research an organization that helps moms and children that have been displaced from domestic violence.  Your kids will be saddened and shocked to hear that often these kids flee with nothing more than the clothes on their back.  Talk about how many kids will be impacted by these clothes and then let them go with you to make the delivery. The memory of this will make next year’s cleaning time much more enjoyable for your kids.
Our kids often take on the attitudes they see us display.  If they think we are dreading it, they will assume it isn’t fun.  If however they see us laughing and looking forward to it with anticipation it is likely that at least a little of this will rub off on them.

Our Family is Growing

We have exciting news for the My Job Chart family!  Our new website Zingity has officially launched.  Woo!

Activities for kids and families

Zingity is a community of families, adults, kids, teachers, and experts building character through step-by-step activities in a wide variety of interests and character traits.  We’re so excited to finally share this tool with you and your family!
Many of you have your own activities, DIYs, or recipes just waiting to be shared!  For you we’ve created a great guide that will help you get started publishing your first activity to Zingity here.

diy, activities,and promotion

Your profile shows your activities, bio, and a link to your website!

For those of you who run your own blogs, we are happy to announce that we’ve created profiles that will allow your fans to find your website.  This way they can continue reading all your great content and you can find new readers!

But Zingity is not just for our builders!

 It’s also for those of you looking for great quality activities that are geared specifically towards increasing different character traits or interests!  

View by interest or explore by character traits!

View Zingity by our many different interest categories, or explore by character traits!

Join the rest of the community today, and let us know what you think.  We are very excited about this new chapter and hope you are too.  Let’s see what we can build together.

Meet Our Favorite Blogger!

Recently, our blogs have been written by Kathryn Prusinski.  While you know a bit about her from that tiny bio under each post, we’d like you to learn more about Kathryn (we call her Kat)!

parenting, proud mom, bestIt goes without saying that above all, she is a proud Mom!

While she has built a successful career consulting with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, this was not her planned career. When she was a teen she dreamed of being an actress, but knowing she had to be realistic she had a backup plan, if that didn’t pull through- play professional basketball.

Unfortunately, she stopped growing at 5’2” and never had her big acting break. Still, she has made the most of her opportunities to achieve much in her life.

Did you know:

  • Kathryn has lived in 4 times zones in the past 10 years.
  • She’s met two living Presidents. (bonus fact: They were George W. Bush and Bill Clinton)
  • Kathryn and her sister are the very first in their family to receive college diplomas
  • One of her favorite hobbies is watching football and being a crazy OU Sooners Alum.
  • Her cousin is Babe Ruth.
  • She is the mother to her daughter (Abby) and two foreign-exchange daughters (Lara) from Germany and (Marielle) from Switzerland.

Now you know a little more about our favorite prolific writer.  We’re glad she’s with us, sharing her knowledge and experiences as a mom!  We hope you enjoyed this little insight, behind-the-scenes look at My Job Chart.

parenting tips and advice from our best writer

Thank you again Kat, we appreciate everything you do for our blog!

Key To Teaching Wise Decision Making

It is never too early to begin preparing your kids to become successful adults.  While most parents wait until their kids have reached double digits, it is so much easier if you begin early.  Here are a few questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Is he/she prepared to make the tough decisions without me bearing down on him/her with consequences?
  2. Has he/she developed the critical thinking skills to make wise decisions absent of my counsel or other adults, especially when they go against the popular thought?

Based upon how I’ve had to answer these questions with my own teenager, here are a few things I wished I had done differently – bits of advice I wish I had known about (or listened to in many cases).

#adulting is hard

  • When they come to you with a question, NEVER respond with the answer despite how easy or obvious it is.  Yes, it is easier (and quite frankly less time consuming) to just give them the answer however this isn’t helping them learn how to make decisions and actually is messaging to them that they aren’t capable of coming to the right conclusion on their own.  Instead of giving them the answer, return with the question, what do you think?  Follow that up with why; this allows them to walk through the critical thinking and come to the resolution on their own (with a little help along the way).
  • If they don’t have an answer or an opinion, send them away to think about it and ask them to return when they have some input.  This forces them to seek out the information from other resources.  This skill will help them immensely when you aren’t there to answer them from hundreds of miles away.

parenting tips and advice

In our busy lives, it is so much easier to give them the answer (I’ve done it more times than I wish to count) but teaches them one thing only – rely on me for all the answers.  If we want to raise successful adults, we must start early and start by teaching them to think for themselves.

Making Chores Fun For Kids Around The House

Having a chore list alone is not a guarantee kids will do them, and I’m not sure I’ve met a child yet that looks at chores with excitement and thrill.  But it doesn’t have to be dread and dragging, you can put some fun back into those daily responsibilities.   Here are a few ways to put the FUN back into household chores.

Make chores around the house fun

Making chores fun, isn’t all that hard!

  1. Make it a competition.  I like kids vs. adults and doing it this way often encourages and incentivizes your kids to work together in order to take you down as the parent.  For example, time who can clean their bathroom and bedroom quicker.  Winner gets to pick a fun family activity for everyone at the conclusion of the competition.  
  2. Crank up the music and dance right alongside them.  Yes, you may feel odd dancing with the vacuum or clean dishes but time will fly by so much faster with the distraction of the music (and your awful dance moves).  Your kids will love the fact that it is likely one of the only times they are given the freedom to let it roar.
  3. Add in creative challenges to mix it up a bit.  For example if there is job is dusting and they are right handed, challenge them to do the dusting by only using their left hand or better yet, have them vacuum on one foot.  Not only will these challenges likely result in a few good laughs, when they decide to go back to “the normal way” it will seem so easy and quick due to their enlightened perspective.  
  4. Build a story around the chore (or have them build the story).  For example rather than simply having them clean their room, build a story around it like this.  Your bedroom is a city and that city has been notified that a citizen has hidden a dangerous device somewhere that if not found within 30 min could potentially harm all its residents.  In order to find this device, you must clear all items from the floor and then uncover the device (which you’ve creatively hidden underneath the pile of dirty laundry).

Chores don’t have to be painful or the source of conflict if you will pause for a second and throw the fun back into it.  Now – go have some fun!

Bad Emoji Use Can Get Your Kid Arrested?!

emoji and parentingBusiness Insider has recently reported about a 12-year-old from Fairfax, VA., that has been charged with threatening her school after police said she posted a message on Instagram in December laden with gun, bomb and knife emojis. It read in part:

Killing 🔫

“meet me in the library Tuesday”

🔫 🔪 💣

The girl’s mom argued that the girl had posted the message in response to being bullied at school. “She’s a good kid. She’s never been in trouble before,” the woman said. “I don’t think it’s a case where there should have been charges.”

While the choice of emoji is not ideal, should using these emojis be reason enough to get the kid arrested?  Recently a grand jury in New York City had decided whether 👮 🔫 represented a true threat to police officers.  Since these images are becoming more and more a part of our day-to-days lives judges are being asked to interpret the meaning of a face with a tongue sticking out: :P.

“I think something is definitely lost in translation,” Pratt said of the police interpreting the teens’ emoji use. “These kids are not threatening cops, they are just trying to say, ‘I’m tough.’ It’s posturing.”

Ultimately, what everyone is wondering is what is the actually meaning behind these emojis and should they even be considered for evidence?

This may be a interesting discussion to have with your kids tonight as they are texting away on their phones. See who’s side in this debate they fall on and ask them if they would consider the post on Instagram a threat to their school or if they think the kid was just posting a normal post.

 

What Athletes and Politicians Have in Common

Team Huddle Sports

There are many life lessons being taught to our little ones by those in the public eye.  Athletes are often criticized for their actions because of they are role models to so many.   Our politicians on the other hand, seem to have been held to a different standard and have clearly missed the fact that they too serve as role models, poor as it may be.  Being in the spirit of Super Tuesday, here is what I’ve noticed during the recent presidential banter in terms of what our politicians are teaching the next generation.

  • When you don’t agree with someone’s point of you, skip the debate and discussion and go straight to the personal attacks.  Call your opponents idiots, morons or a myriad of negative words, and if you are really proficient attack their family to the same degree or more.
  • When you don’t agree with someone’s position, cut them off and don’t let them complete their thoughts, as they are stupid and irrelevant in the first place.  If cutting them off doesn’t work, start yelling as you are cutting them off.  After all, the key to winning is being the only voice the audience can hear.  At the very least this shows your position of authority and that in and of itself may intimidate others to not question you or your position.
  • Avoid discussing and defending your position in general.  Only speak in front of controlled audiences with little interaction so that you can fully control the message.  Ensure you aren’t available to answer questions and respond to opposition as this just encourages anarchy and chaos and it is your job to keep the people in line and focused on their job not the direction you are taking them.

Isn’t it time that we begin expecting from our politicians what we have long expected of our professional athletes and others that are in the public eye or are these the values we want to pass on to the next generation.  Isn’t it time for us to expect from our leaders what we expect from our five year olds?  I’d say so.

President Super Tuesday

Effects of Overprotective Parents

Overprotective Parent

Being an overprotective or “helicopter” parent can have many different effects on our children when they’re growing up.  I’ve often joked about my desire to have a GPS tracker installed under my child’s skin in my fatal attempt to keep her safe and I suspect at one time or another I may have been mildly serious about this – albeit a bit exaggerated.  In reality however, in our attempt to “keep our kids safe”, we have in many cases, stifled them in developing courage and a sense of adventure, replacing it instead with fear and caution.  So what impact does this overprotective nature really have on our kids?

Delayed Decision Making Skills

If we are always at our kids’ sides, they will always look to us to drive decision making rather than doing so on their own.  Fearful of making the wrong decision and having never been able to experience the elation of making their own right decisions, they will cling to us.  While this might feel sweet and loving at the age of 10, it isn’t quite that way at the age of 22.  Kids have to given age-appropriate ways to exert independence in an environment that is safe and allows them to fail.  I don’t know about you but some of the best lessons I learned as a kid were as a result of making the wrong the decision.

bad decision making

When your 20 year old is coming to you for every decision they need to make, it’s a problem.

Lack of Self-Confidence 

By not allowing yourLack of Confidence with my kid children to ride their bikes to the park, play outside without you or simply walk to a friend’s house, you are telling them they aren’t capable of making decisions, that you don’t trust them to make good choices in stressful situations. This will make them believe this and their confidence will continue to go down. This style of parenting may put our kids in a scary place of mistrust in their choices or even a flip of complete rebellion.  

As scary as it may be, we must allow our kids to explore the great outdoors, ride their bikes or climb a tree.  Not only are they building their imagination and creativity but they are building the fundamental skills that will make them successful adults.  Will they have some bumps and bruises along the way?  You bet they will but the pain from those will be far less than the life-long impact of not giving them the freedoms. Where can you start?  Maybe it’s letting them play in the driveway while you are inside or maybe you are ready to let them walk to a friend’s house at the end of the block.  The excitement on their faces when they accomplish it on their own will be well worth the temporary stress we feel!

 

The Dangers Hidden On Your Kid’s Phone

 

Our family loves technology.  I love how technology allows us to connect with our daughter living in Germany and how I can at a moment’s notice find something new to fix for dinner when another night of tacos just won’t do!  Technology is a beautiful thing!

Unfortunately, if not managed and monitored properly, it ultimately can downright dangerous – especially for our kids.  As much as we liked our privacy as teenagers, privacy in today’s day and age – especially as it relates to technology, can set your kids up for consequences that can literally change their lives in a moment.   

As a parent, it is critical that you monitor their devices and know what each app REALLY is.  It is critical that you talk to your kids about the dangers and even more critical that you are comfortable hitting the DELETE button when an app appears that just isn’t safe.  Here are a few of the apps that cause me alarm and won’t be on our girls’ phones.  

apps to look for

  1.  Best Secret Folder – It is designed to allow you to hide your most private videos and photos.  I don’t know about you but I’m pretty sure I don’t want this on my teen’s phone.  Even better, it has an alarm that activates to let your kids know if you are trying to look. Apps on your kid's phone
  1. Periscope – This app allows you to capture live streaming videos that open your kids up to cyber bullying, predators and poor choices that can’t be “taken back” (and it has a feature that allows you to publicize your exact location).  You have no idea who is watching on the other end and if they are who they say they are.  This app might be better saved for after their brain is fully developed.
  1. Parenting Tips Paltalk – This app allows you to join public chat rooms where you can video chat with complete strangers.  Do I really need to go any further?

These are just three of the many apps that, in the blink of an eye can change your kid’s life forever.  Do the research.  Filters are great and conversation is beneficial but NOTHING can protect your children like you can by simply being an involved parent and…. well, parenting even when it’s not popular.

Watch This And Then Take a Break From Your Phone

This video will make you want to put down your phone, or shut down your computer.  Really makes you wonder how our kids perceive us when they see us in front of screens so much.

Featured as #12 out of the Top 100 Parent Bloggers

Feedspot just put out their Top 100 Parenting Blogs, and we are honored to be highlighted as #12.

Top Parenting Blogtop parenting blog

parenting advice

We didn’t get a trophy, but we’re still very happy. Thank you, Feedspot!

Character Lessons My Kids Learned From Watching the Super Bowl

Learning moments I’ve found, often come at the most unexpected times.  It is our job as parents to be aware of these moments and use them as teaching moments with our kids.  Here is what we learned from this year’s athletes.

  1. It takes a team to win even when you are superstars.  You can’t get that forced interception or tackle if your teammates aren’t doing their part. Celebrate your accomplishments while recognizing the role your team played in that success.  Von Miller, this year’s Super Bowl MVP recognized his teammates first and foremost before answering any questions about his own success.   In fact, he even recognized the role the offense played in his defensive success.  People won’t remember what he said, but they will remember the spirit in which he delivered his comments.

    teach your kids

    And the full team had plenty of spirit.

  2. Losing stinks.  It is painful, disheartening and just feels awful.  Anyone can lose but not everyone can lose and still win.  So much about a person’s character will be revealed by how they react to losing. Did they run and hide, throw a temper tantrum or did they own the part they played while recognizing the talent of the winning team?  Sadly, the video of Cam Newton storming off the stage at the after-game press conference will get more play time than all his successes.  He missed a great opportunity to be an example for the millions of people (and especially young children) on HOW to lose with dignity.

    teaching your kids how to lose

    Losing with grace.

  3. Hard work doesn’t guarantee a win but it will guarantee success if you work hard long enough.  It isn’t enough to clock in and clock out doing the minimal amount required.  Champions sacrifice. They are up early and stay up late.  They work when others are resting and they never stop trying to get better.  Showing up will get you a paycheck and that is it.  Hard work however, will bring you gratitude, camaraderie and great wins.  

Talent and skill will fade over time, even for the greatest athletes.  The lessons they’ve learned along the way however can have a lasting impact…positive or negative.

Teaching Your Kids The Importance of Commitment

It always seems that the phrases you dreaded the most from your parents as a small child seem to be the ones you find yourself saying to your own kids.  As you speak the words yourself, you can hear your parents in your head.

parenting tips

For a moment you think, “Oh no, this is what I’ve become,” but then you realize the wisdom they had and move on.

For me, this phrase was, “No, you can’t quit, you made a commitment.”  Commitment, it seems to be less and less prominent in our society today.  In a world of disposability, we seem to have lost the art of commitment.  It’s a hard trait to learn and even harder to maintain but it is one that is so important to ensuring our children grow up to be successful adults.

commitment and children
When your kid tells you they don’t want to continue doing the activity you paid $$$ for.

I have a child involved in theater and without a doubt there comes a time in the rehearsal schedule that she comes to me begging to either skip rehearsal.  These moments typically occur when it’s a crazy week, she is exhausted, school homework is insane and rehearsals are scheduled to run long.   All of which make for very legitimate reasons to let her stay home, but I don’t allow it because I can’t.  I can’t because I want her to learn the importance of staying true to her word.  I want her to learn determination – that characteristic that you must call upon when you are just flat spent.  I want her to feel the joy that comes from pushing through and supporting her team members that also are struggling with exhaustion.  I want her boss to see her as someone that is reliable and dependable, even when deadlines are tight and the nights run long.  And so I repeat to her the phrase my own mom shared with me and know that in the long run I am teaching her the importance of commitment in a world that seems to have forgotten its importance.

Study Says That Our Kids Don’t Care For Others!

What kind of adults are we raising in America?  A recent study by Harvard’s School of Education mentioned in a New York Times article asked 10,000 middle and high school kids which was most important to them:  academic achievement, being happy, or caring for others.  As you would expect only 22% said caring for others was most important. 

Parenting tips

What if everyone was like this?

Here is why it is alarming and why we must do better for our kids.  If achievement is most important then when these students (my kids) are faced with a conflicting situation – do right or win, win will be selected each and every time and in most circumstances someone will be left in the dust.

There has to be a better way – we owe it to our kids (and society) to raise kind and compassionate children who want to pursue academic achievement together in harmony.  But, like academic achievement, kindness must be taught (and it takes more than just one or two tries to get it right).  

academic success

Here are 2 parenting tips you can use to help reverse this trend and begin teaching your kids about kindness.

  1. Model the behavior you want to see in your kids. From a very young age our kids are watching our actions and discerning how to act based largely NOT on what we say to them but rather how we behave ourselves.  Show them what kindness is.  Shovel the snow from the neighbor’s driveway, open the door for a stranger, and let someone go in front of you in the line at the grocery store.  
  1.  Give them opportunities to treat others with kindness.  Have them babysit for the single mom for free or mow the lawn of the neighbor who just had a new child.  Encourage them to sit next to the new kid in the cafeteria or invite them to the basketball game.  At first they will resist, not because they don’t care but because it is new and a little awkward.  Encourage and celebrate and it will become easier.

We must become as diligent in teaching character as we are in achievement if we want to raise kids with character.  Let’s start today!

Fun Snow Day Activities for the Whole Family

Blizzard Activities

If you are one of the fortunate families enjoying time indoors due to the three feet of snow between you and your ability to leave your home you are likely needing some creative ideas to keep the kids (and you) sane!

After you’ve played every iteration of monopoly you’ve found in your house, here are some fun indoor activities for the whole family.  I’ve found that, in the midst of activities we often learn a lot about what is going on in our kids lives-  it is as though when having fun they put their guard down!

So enjoy this time to laugh, build some memories, have some fun and learn a few things by connecting with your kids.

Make Colored Ice Sculptures  

Colored Ice Activity for Winter Days

  1. Place water and colored dye into various containers – for example we use glasses, muffin tins or maybe even a small pot or two.  
  2. Place them in the freezer or outside if your temperature is low enough!  
  3. When they are frozen, run the container under warm water to loosen the ice so that you can pop it out.  
  4. Have the kids build sculptures from the various pieces and place them outside.  The color against the white snow makes for a beautiful art piece and will also allow you to see just how quickly or not quickly the snow around you is melting.  

Make an indoor obstacle course  

hamster

  1. It’s been awhile since you vacuumed behind all that furniture so why not do it after you’ve moved the furniture around in such a way that builds a course.  Use the whole house and get creative.  
  2. Make it challenging by having the kids crawl, use only one leg, slide through like a snake or even better blindfolded.  
  3. Time everyone and make it a tournament of sorts with multiple rounds for those winners advancing.  Not only will they burn energy but they will learn creative problem solving, teamwork and listening along the way.

Although, the cabin fever is at times a bit stressful, remember these are time times your kids will remember.  So push aside the frustration, be present in the moment and have some fun!

 

Preparing Your Kids For College

College tours are in full swing for many of our families as they help their children prepare for this next phase in life.  More than once I’ve heard the story of the stunned teenager as they realize that mom will no longer be on laundry duty…and so the story begins.

Have you prepared your children to launch into this world of ours?  Have you spent as much time teaching them how to be a successful adult as you have being their friend and confidant?  If so, it is never too late.  Here are a few parenting tips you can implement now to ensure your teen or pre-teen child is prepared to survive their first semester away.

  1. Have them do their own laundry.  If you are a freak like me, this is a hard one.  I promise you that the world won’t end if they shrink something or turn it red.  Start by teaching them the basics and watching them actually do the work, then let them loose to do it on their own.  You will be pleasantly surprised at how good they are at it.Student taking care of laundry
  2. Make them set their own alarms to get up for school and DO NOT do it for them.  Unless you are prepared to drive to their dorm rooms five days a week, they need to be able to get up on their own.  This seems simple but it will be the difference in a good semester and a failed semester.  Oh and when they oversleep (and they will) let them suffer the natural consequences of the unexcused absence.  DO NOT cover for them unless you are prepared to do the same for them in College.  College Waking Up
  3. Have them fix their own breakfast (and lunch for that matter).  Unless you want your child to be sustained on pop tarts, Cheetos, and fast food, they must know how to cook a meal.  The habits they are developing now are the habits they will take with them into adulthood.  Again, start slow.  Help them identify variety and things they might like and show them how to prepare.  As they become more confident, gradually back away.

Prepare you teen for college

In today’s world, it is very easy to do things for our kids out of love but be mindful that your “love” isn’t crippling them or you may have to love, aka take care of them longer than you expected.

The Controversy Behind Girl Scout Cookies

Who knew that Girl Scout cookies were a controversial topic but apparently so due to Girl Scouts going digital with their orders and so many parents doing the selling through Facebook and other social media mediums.   I must tell you this one has made me pause, consider and reconsider in terms of whether or not I agree.  

parenting tip for cookie moms

The new girl scouts program seems great, if the parents aren’t the one’s actually selling the cookies.

 

Here are my thoughts to all those parents wanting to support their kids without being helicopter moms and dads as you consider launching those online campaigns.  

  1. If you want to sell at work (through the old fashion paper sign up), have your child prepare the marketing materials.  Have fun with it through clever marketing phrases and colorful signage.  In addition, have them follow up with an email or hand-written thank you note to everyone who supports the cause.  This gives them some skin in the game and teaches them the importance of good marketing and customer service.  
  2. If you are posting online, have them do the posting on your page.  Get clever and have them record a video.  Have them do new videos and posts each week.  In addition, have them private message or publicly post notes of thanks to those satisfied customers.  You are teaching them great lessons about viral marketing and how to utilize happy customers to drive more business.   
  3. Require that they track and manage all sales.  If they can operate an iPad or iPhone, they can operate and track on excel or some other form of spreadsheet accounting.  If you want to teach real money management, have them track the $$/time on marketing to help them understand which arenas drive the greatest net profits.  
  4. Make them do SOME selling in person.  This could be door-to-door sales or getting a booth in front of the local grocer.  There are so many lessons wrapped up in soliciting (and getting rejected) for business.  girl scout cookies gone digital

Bottom line, I don’t think you are an awful parent for supporting your child’s efforts.  It only becomes problematic when you remove them from the occasion.  Teaching them to manage those they’ve delegated selling to is a lesson in and of itself.  I for one will be buying online so let the solicitations begin…  Oh if you see a girl selling, throw them a few bucks and support their efforts!

Why You Should Be Paying Your Child An Allowance

Chores for kids

I remember having conversations with some friends when my daughter was young about the importance of allowance.  At the time, I was 100% opposed to the idea of paying my child to do what I believed was her responsibility as a family member.  I mean, who pays their child for cleaning her room and putting away her laundry or feeding the dogs?  

Answer:  Smart Parents!!

Here is what I have since realized (and since corrected).  Paying your child to do work teaches them two very important principles that will carry them through life.

1.  The concept of money.  

My daughter had NO concept of money UNTIL she began earning her own.  Within 30 days we went from shopping off the full-price racks to heading straight to the clearance racks.  Our conversations went from “I want this” to “Is this really $40 cute?  That is two week’s worth of chores!”    In essence, giving her an allowance moved her from the “living off a credit cards” (i.e. the parents) mentality to a “pay as you go” mentality.  

2.  The value and importance of hard work.  

Kids will want to save their hard earned money

Kids will want to save their hard earned money.

 

Learning that you only get paid when you work has taught her the importance of 1) getting a job and 2) sacrificing “fun time” for earning money.  Both of these are critical to her securing long-term employment and success.  Prior to allowance, it was always a battle to get her to do her chores on the weekend, as she desired to opt for fun time with friends over playtime.  This battle has virtually disappeared with her now telling friends I can’t do anything until my chores are done.

 

 

Our job as parents is to prepare our kids to be successful adults.  Being a successful adult ABSOLUTELY requires a strong understanding of money management.  Start your child young so they can learn when the stakes aren’t so high.  Failing to do so will undoubtedly translate into you bailing them out at one point or another.

It’s never too late to start and the freedom and joy that comes as a result will do wonders for your relationship with your children.

 

It’s Ok For Kids To Do Chores & Have Fun!

This seems obvious to most, but clearly not everyone.  In an article recently posted on Facebook, a mom stated that if your kids are old enough to use a cell phone, they are old enough to run a washing machine (The Better Mom – Facebook).  It goes on to talk about how, as moms we often do too much for our kids and in the process, only inhibiting their ability to become successful adults.  Something I believed was common sense… apparently not.   

children and chores

One reader replied that kids have the rest of their adult life to do chores as adults and we should just let them be kids.  My first thought was, I hope they love their kids because it is highly likely they will be living in their basement for a VERY long time, but instead I took the opportunity to reflect.  

What would make a mom react in this very emotional way?   Changes in curriculum standards, the never-ending testing environment of our schools has in many instances almost fully eliminated age-appropriate play in many schools so I can understand this mom’s desire to just let a kid be a kid.

I propose however that “letting a kid be a kid” should include both play AND responsibility.  I don’t think anyone is proposing that your six year old should be mowing the lawn and trimming the trees, but all kids (even before they are school age) should begin understanding the value of responsibility doing chores.  

Children and Responsibility

Responsibility, like so many others values, isn’t innate … IT MUST TAUGHT!  If you don’t teach it when the stakes are low, they will have to learn the lesson the hard way when they are older.  I’m certain you don’t want your adult child living in filth with a two-week’s supply of dirty dishes in the sink because they were never required to put dirty dishes in the dishwasher or even worse, having their utilities turned off because they bought some cool new technology “toy” rather than paying the electric bill.  

Our goal as parents is to raise healthy, functioning adults.  It is MUCH easier to begin teaching this at an early age than trying to play catch-up at 17.  Let’s re-define what “being a kid” means and start teaching them the fundamentals of responsibility through chores.

 

How to Reduce Your Child’s Screen Time


time spend on electronics

There is a constant debate among parents about how much screen time is too much for your children.  A recent NPR article gave a startling fact, “Most American children spend more time consuming electronic media than they do in school.

What can you do to better the way or reduce the time your kids are spending on electronic devices?

Be a Role-Model

Your kids are constantly watching and taking after you, especially when you’re not at your best.  They will remember if you pull out your phone at dinner, and if you try to reprimand them for doing the same thing, you’ll find yourself fighting an uphill battle.

tweens screen time parenting and screen time

Have Conversations About the “Real World”

Talk to your kids about the activities they do that don’t involve electronics. Having conversations about the sports they’re playing, the books they’re reading and other activities can draw their interest into these interests. This parenting tip is even more important for younger children as they are actively seeking out your attention.  So, if your kid notices that you talk more about their soccer game than their high score on a video game, they may be more inclined to work in soccer or outdoor activities more.

Involve your kids in rule making

If you can get your kids to come to an agreeance around appropriate electronic usage, they’ll be more understanding when they inevitably break the rule.  Plus, this opens up a great opportunity for you to have a discussion with your kids about how they’re using their electronics and what safe usage looks like.

parenting tips for amount of screen time parenting
We’d love to hear from you about this topic; do you limit your children’s screen time, and if so how does your family go about it?

Getting Back to the Basics of Parenting

busyCalendar2

Raising children is hard to manage.  Our family just downloaded a calendar app to try and keep everyone’s schedules straight.  My biggest fear, as a Mom, is that I will at some point forget a kid somewhere, then who would I to be giving parenting tips!  I’m hoping this calendar will allow me to avoid this embarrassing and scary situation.  As I began to reflect on how much we struggle managing the schedules of two girls who are only allowed to participate in one activity at a time (here is where you sigh at how this decision might be holding my child back from entrance into the most prestigious universities….) It dawned on me that maybe just maybe in our pursuit of success, happiness or the multitude of other reasons we overcommit our calendars, we are no longer driving our lives but our lives are driving us.  And, as a result, the family has taken the brunt of the impact.

It’s time to stop the madness and get back to the basics… strengthening our families NOT the fullness of our calendars.  

What if, instead of having them rush home from school to complete their homework before hockey, karate or piano lessons, we forced them to go outside, climb trees, ride their bikes and use their imagination…that thing that kept us all busy outside for hours when we were kid.

Healthy eating as a family

What if, instead of sustaining ourselves on drive-through meals due to everyone’s competing schedules, we committed to two (sigh, gasp in shock) nights a week where as a family we all sat around the table together and shared the day’s experiences?  What would change in terms of family dynamics?

What if, during dinner, everyone was required to check out from their technology (even us parents) and check in to the family?  Make it a house rule to have no phones out at the table.  How much more would we know about the struggles, the wins and the celebrations in our kids’ lives?   

House Rule

What if, this year you decided to get away from the madness and back to the basics?  What would your family, your relationship with your spouse and kids look like in 12 months?   I suspect you might not even recognize it… and that would be a good thing!

 

Setting Family New Year’s Resolutions

family

As we enter the new year, we get too look back and reflect on the last.   We begin to assess how well we did on those New Year’s resolutions.  How often, however, have you sat down as a family and made family resolutions?  If you haven’t done this yet, take the time to do it now.  There is something powerful about having the accountability and support of your entire family.

stitch

Not sure where to start?  Why not start here:

  1. Have family date nights.  Start with once a month and block the time to do something as a family.  Each month a different member of the family is responsible for planning the night.  It doesn’t need to be expensive – plan a hike and picnic, do a movie night in your living room, camp out in the backyard or have the kids make dinner.   The most important part is ensuring that ALL technology be “checked-in” at the beginning of the date – this is about connecting with family, not your email.powerpuff
  2. Get healthy together.  Start simple by identifying one night a week to cook healthy.  Again, rotate who decides what will be prepared.  Make sure that person is involved in the shopping as well as the preparation.  This one simple act will teach your kids so much about responsibility and planning and so much more.
  3. Pay It Forward. It’s so easy to get busy and wrapped up in our own lives that we fail to see so much around us.  What would happen if each of us decided to do something kind for someone else?  Make a calendar and identify what each person’s act of kindness will be each month.  It can be something as simple as carrying someone’s groceries for them, paying for the person in line behind you.  I just read about someone who taped a $20 bill to diapers at their local grocery store.  Can you imagine the unexpected gift of receiving $20 with your purchase?

Commit to making 2016 one that focuses on strengthening your family.  The rewards will be endless.  

Financial Literacy, Will Your Kids Know it?

moneyFinancial2

A recent Nerd Wallet posting has shared a startling study that estimates roughly 3.4 billion worldwide are financially illiterate.  Of the total 150,000 surveyed only 33% of adults had passed a simple quiz.

We need to figure out how to bridge this huge gap and make sure that our kids are getting the financial education they need while they are young to minimize the amount of mistakes they could potentially make.  

Unfortunately, most schools leave financial preparation up to parents, or they fail to create world examples that will push these ideas into our children’s heads.  Really it’s no wonder why students who head off to higher education find themselves hitting a hard financial wall.  

College

There are too many of them who are still struggling to differentiate between a need versus a want to be able to even think about how much money they’re actually going to need to payback their loans.

Real adulting

We are leading them on this journey, yet we are not giving them the resources to be successful.  Overall, this study is a huge wakeup call to anyone parenting now, work with your kids and talk to them about money.  Begin placing importance on it when their young. Have them develop responsibilities doing chores, maybe give them a loan that they can pay back with a small amount of interest.  Give them the opportunity to fail safely with their family to help teach these lessons so they can grow up and raise that percentage.

What you said about your kids and chores!

We conducted a survey about your kids and their chores with our fans on Facebook and those of you who have joined our email list.  Since, we’ve reached the end the year, we’d like to share our findings with you.  Thanks to everyone who participated!

Kids and Chores

How to Raise Successful Kids

Raising Successful Kids

A recent article in Business Insider identified the 11 things successful kids have in common.  While a quick glance at some of the kids I’ve know during my time as a parent, I think that BI was spot on, though I have to admit that recently I believe many of the 11 things are growing noticeably absent from our current culture.
In the craziness of this thing we call “life”, we’ve pushed aside the fundamentals of raising kids of strong character and replaced it with a combination of excuses and manageable chaos.  Now that the holiday season has finally come around, here’s our chance to make the most of the opportunity to reflect and see if you can add these three parenting tips back into a daily routine for your family.

  1. Give Your Kids Chores – The lessons they learn over a sink of dirty dishes are priceless.  If you do it for them, they will grow up thinking the “not so fun stuff” is someone else’s job…translation – they could develop a sense of entitlement.  Doing chores gives them a sense of pride and accomplishment, something sitting in front of video games won’t do.

    chores

    They’ll get over the dishes.

  2. Teach Them Social Skills – I like to call this character building moments since learning how to share, treat others with kindness, or moving through conflict in a healthy manner all are critical to their ability to lead happy and successful lives.  Like building a house, it will take time and effort but through consistent learning opportunities (they can be fun), your children will learn these traits that will allow them to develop healthy social relationships that will make their lives now and later much more enjoyable.
  3. Develop Relationships With Them…translation – get to know your kids. All parents like to say they know their kids, but do you really? Let’s face it, if you have difficulty naming five close friends, a few teachers or what they do regularly after school, you can’t really say you know your kids.

The good news is that it’s not too late.  Make the time and start asking questions in order to find out what’s going on in their world.  Try catching up during the holiday break as you do some projects together.  Whether you talk while you rake leaves, play a game, cook or bake, the point is your are talking.

Raising successful kids doesn’t magically happen.  It is up to us as parents to begin bringing back the basics and find the time to prepare them for adulthood.  This may mean trading out those dance classes or sporting events for family time, however, in the end, these moments will be far more meaningful than any activity could ever be.  Start now!

bestparent

Keeping Your Kids Thankful

FamilyGiving


This season of giving is upon us and amidst the ringing of bells and purchasing of food and toys for those who have very little, it seems a struggle in many cases to keep ourselves and our kids in the spirit of gratitude.  
I’ve been thinking a lot about this as I purposefully choose not to have “those kids” under my roof.

Have you ever noticed the power of the words “thank you” in your life?  

Thank You

Even more important, have you noticed it in the lives of your children and their friends?  Don’t you just love it when on carpool duty when another person’s child gets out of the car while yelling thank you to you?   

So, how do we instill a sense of gratitude in our kids, and why is it so important?  In the absence of gratitude, the quality of being appreciative for what you have and what others give you, comes entitlement and entitlement is the never ending pit of never enough.  

Here are a few tips over this next month you can use — I’ve used these myself and they have really supported our efforts.

  • Model gratitude for them.  Our kids learn much more from our actions than our words so model gratitude.  Say thank you to others, be appreciative during lean times and thank them for doing the simple things.  Soon you’ll find your kids mirroring your behavior. 
  • Learn to say no!  Just because you can afford it, they want it and you have the means to buy it, doesn’t mean you should say yes to everything they ask for.  Raising your children this way makes those “I got it” occasions all the more sweet.  
  • Learn to say noMake them do something for others in place of a time that would normally have been all about them.  Rather than opening up gifts on Christmas day, volunteer at a shelter or pass out blankets in areas where they are needed.  Seeing others who have nothing puts life into perspective… even for young children.    You may even see them asking if they can share their new items with those in need.  

Gratitude must be both taught and modeled, but the rewards are so worth it as nothing beats the sound of “thank yous” filled with smiles on their faces.

 

3 Ways to Not Lose Touch This Holiday

Family during Christmas

I LOVE this time of year!  From decorations to celebrating with friends, this season brings me so much joy.  Unfortunately it also brings families a tremendous amount of stress as schedules become crazy, homework becomes more intense and final grades are looming just over the horizon.  As a result, many families, without even realizing lose touch one with one another as the hustle and bustle of life takes over.

So, how can you avoid losing touch with your children during this time?  How can you remain engaged in their lives when their exhaustion and stress leave them entirely uninterested in communicating with you?

Here are a few simple steps:

  1. QUIT asking Yes/NO or closed ended questions.  I promise you that asking
    Talking

    They will talk to you.

    your child “how was your day?” or “did you have a good day?” will elicit very little in return.  Instead, ask them “what was the most awesome thing and the most awful thing that happened to you today?”  This question alone in my house often turns into a 20-minute conversation if you are willing to listen.

  2. Go for a drive to look at Christmas lights WITHOUT cell phones.  After all the distractions of TVs, phones and chores are gone, you are able to focus on engaging with your kids.  Talk about your day, celebrate your wins, talk about which house on the block did the best at decorating.  The topic isn’t nearly as important as simply engaging with your kids.  End the evening by grabbing some hot chocolate and voting on the winners.  You are not only staying connected but building lifelong memories together as well.
  3. As a family, DO SOMETHING for someone else.  Adopt a family, purchase food for the local food bank or volunteer to serve at the Ronald McDonald house.  You will be surprised what you learn about your kids, their stresses and their friends as you are bagging onions at the local food bank.  Not only will this bring you closer together with your kids, but also it allows you to put life and what really matters into perspective.

December is full of craziness and energy and doesn’t have to result in frazzled and disconnected families.  Use this time to draw your family closer and build memories that cost very little to absolutely nothing.

Family Time

Why Is Monitoring Social Media Important as a Parent?

A recent article on app.com eluded to the fact that spying on your child’s online “social” activity breaks down trust and encourages them to hide information from you. As a mom that closely monitors her teen’s activity, I couldn’t agree more. Spying, snooping or otherwise secretly investigating will break down trust. This is why it as never been a secret in our household that social media will be monitored and has always been a prerequisite to having access to social media.

Staying Informed

When I was young and met a new friend, my mom was able to talk to the other soccer moms, PTA parents, or neighborhood friends to ensure my new friend was someone in the right crowd and not the local troublemaker. They met their parents and the kid together the first time they dropped me off to hang out, and said hello when they came back to pick me up. Translation: they met and knew my friends.

But that wasn’t enough. They listened to our conversations as we laughed in the den or family room and picked up on just enough info that they were able to keep the pulse on our lives, relationships and drama. In today’s world, much of the socialization and “hanging out” occurs online. Hanging out at someone’s house has been replaced with group texting and Snapchat – each person in their own homes. The conversations have moved from the living room to the mobile world, and as parents we can’t allow that change to disconnect us from their lives. I believe that monitoring her social media is simply a way to get to know her friends, not unlike what my mother did for me many years ago.

What social networks are your kids on?

Engaging with Purpose

Let me be clear that none of this is done in secret. When I see something that gives me pause, I ask her about it. More often than not, these conversations move beyond the picture or comment and become a discussion about why the choices this person made in their post weren’t in their best interest, and what the potential negative outcomes might be. I use these incidents as pathways to engage with her. Ironically, now she will often say to me (before I even get a chance to ask) something along the lines of, “Hey mom did you see what he/she posted? – Wow.. that wasn’t a good idea.”

Your kids and social media

Understanding the Risks

The second reason I monitor her social media is because the stakes are high, much higher than when I was a teen. No longer are your social messes easy to clean up. In a matter of seconds, one bad decision can go viral, be seen and sent to thousands, and utterly devastate a young person’s life. I don’t feel I really have to defend the relevancy of this statement as we see its evidence in our news more often than we would hope. The kid bullied on social media, the college student with a bright future devastated by a drunk post, or the innocent picture of a young woman at the beach lifted from a public site and used for very different purposes. And once it’s out there, no PR professional or social media expert can ever wipe it away.

To me, this issue is no different than so many others impacting parents today. Success or failure often lies in when and how expectations for our children are set. The later you start and the more ambiguous you are, along with the transparency you show, will very likely impact your success. At the end of the day, however, remember that your job is not only to prepare them for the real world but to keep them safe in the interim. It’s one of the most difficult yet rewarding jobs you will ever accept.

Don’t Let Moments To Teach Kindness Slip By You

listening

Have you ever formulated a plan, that at the time seemed incredibly wise but ended up being an idea that you are sure had to have been influenced by a lack of sleep or a brief moment of insanity?

Well that was me when recently I scheduled back to back sinus surgeries for myself and my daughter. Even more ridiculous is that I KNEW what I was getting in to – it was my second go at the surgery. I’ve decided however that much like your brain works with pregnancy, over time you forget about the pain and only remember the joyous outcome.   I forgot about my brain on pain meds, the anesthesia that takes days to wear off and the restricted activity that would keep me down…until the time drew near.

You would think based upon the above scenario that I would have willingly accepted the offers from friends and families to support us during this crazy time, but I didn’t. Here is what I’ve come to realize: In my quest to be self-reliant and independent (two badges of honor I wear), I have robbed my daughter of the opportunities to learn the importance of giving and receiving kindness. In pursuit of fortifying two values I deemed important, I all but wiped out the chance of learning about kindness.

Kindness is a trait that all of us will need to be able to freely give and receive at one point or another in our lifetime, but if we shut ourselves off from allowing others to give to us, how will our children ever learn this trait that has no doubt carried many of us through tremendously difficult times.

kindness

In those moments, I denied my daughter the opportunity to see the joy that comes from giving to others, the burdens lifted from a $5.00 hamburger or an errand run. She wasn’t able to sit down next to me as we wrote notes of thanks and talked about how awesome it was to have so many people in our lives that really cared. My choices kept her from being inspired to pay that kindness forward to others also struggling.

So where do you fall on the kindness scale? Do you purposefully identify ways to extend kindness to others? Do you allow people to show kindness to you or do you politely thank them but decline their offers. We need a more kind community and it doesn’t happen by accident.

I challenge each of us to be more open to receiving kindness – it is one of the greatest ways to teach our children its importance. A new app called Zingity starts in a few weeks and is designed to help kids develop good character by just being kids. It’s available for free from LeapSpring, inc., the same company that introduced us to MyJobChart.com.

 

Saving For Our Future

Teaching-Children-How-to-Save-Money[1]

 

 

We’ve all heard the saying, “A penny saved is a penny earned”.  No doubt our parents were trying to teach us that even pennies can grow into dollars over time.

Learning to save is one of the most important financial lessons a parent can teach their children.  However, it is one that often falls through the cracks.

The impact of learning to save is not only measured in dollars and cents.  Here are a few other reasons why you should open a savings account for your child and encourage them to save.

 

The ability to save enables people to think about what is possible for them.  “A savings account is not just a vehicle for saving money but a vehicle for hope,” says Gabriel Duncan, Child Psychologist and parent of three.  By giving your child an opportunity to save they can see how they themselves can have an influence over their own financial future.

 

Children become more aware of their money choices when they have an opportunity to save.  Especially when their savings are destined for a specific purpose.  Choices come into play and character is strengthened when they have to choose between spending their money on immediate gratification or saving for long term goals.

 

Saving can influence your child’s education.  According to three studies out of the Center for Social Development (CSD) at the BrownSchool at WashingtonUniversity in St. Louis, a connection can be found between saving and college enrollment and completion.  In fact, here is what they found.

  • Youth with savings accounts are more likely to graduate from high school.
  • Children with savings accounts are more likely to get better grades and complete more years of education regardless of their family’s income level.
  • Among the youth expected to attend college, those with savings accounts in their names are four to six times more likely to attend college.

 

So, get your children started on the right track by opening a savings account for them today, because “It’s never too early to start saving!”

 

 

 

 

 

The Importance of Parent Involvement in Education

parent involvement

 

Students achieve more when their parents expect more and research overwhelmingly indicates that parent involvement in their child’s education not only positively affects student achievement, it contributes to better performance of schools overall.  Yet both schools and parents struggle with how to make that involvement happen.

 

Benefits

Both students and schools benefit when parents are involved in education.  One study, conducted by the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory found that students whose parents are actively involved in their education are more likely to attend school regularly, adapt well to school, take advanced classes and excel academically. These students also tend to have better social skills, and they are more likely to graduate from high school and attend post-secondary school.  Benefits to schools include more successful academic programs and schools that are generally more effective.

 

School Support of Parent Involvement

Schools must actively recruit and support parent involvement if they want it. School leaders can invite parents to special events, informational workshops, and even school lunches. Teachers should provide regular communication to parents in terms of grade reports, behavior updates and class events. Teachers need to give positive and negative feedback about student grades and behavior and also offer productive options for what parents can do to be more involved.

 

Types of Involvement

One of the best ways for parents to be involved in education is to communicate regularly with teachers. Think of yourself as the teacher’s partner in managing your child’s education. Monitor your child’s homework and school projects, and make them a top priority in your schedule. Another way parents can be involved is to volunteer at the school. All kinds of opportunities exist, such as helping in the classroom, conducting fundraisers and assisting with extracurricular activities.  Attending extra curricular activities like sporting events, concerts, and award ceremonies is another great way to show your support.

 

Obstacles

According to the U.S. Department of Education, the rate of parent involvement drops to 55 percent by the time children reach age 14, and it continues to drop as children progress through high school.  It may be that programs specifically tailored to involving parents at school tend to decline as the students get older. One parent related that the older his children were their schools seemed to want money rather than parents involvement.  Another reason, may have to do with the stigma that teenagers are embarrassed by their parents.  To overcome this begin when they are young to develop a strong relationship and communication standard with them.  Then, when they are older, if they do prefer you not to attend a certain function, they will still know and understand your love and expectations for them, even in your absence.

Self-Improvement Month

Your New Self Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

 

We all want to be better and do better but how many of us actually take the time to work on ourselves to become better?  With September being Self-Improvement month, I suggest we all take some time to do just that, work on ourselves.

Find the time.  If you can’t seem to find the time, I propose that you schedule it in, just like that doctor appointment on the calendar next week.  Or maybe wake-up 30 minutes earlier, or maybe “your” time may be just before bed when the house is quiet.  The most important thing is to be committed to make time for you and your personal self-improvement this month.

Journal to decide.  Writing in a journal can help you explore your thoughts and beliefs and can help you understand what makes you “tick”.  Writing in a journal can also help you reflect and gain insight to what improvements you may decide on.

Set goals.  Make several self-improvement goals.  If you are like me, then you may have quite a few areas of your life that you would like to improve on, but be patient and just pick one or two to work on at a time.  Be crystal clear in what your improvement will look and feel like.  What will you be doing differently, and what will you be saying and thinking with this change?

Get some help.  Read a book or talk to a professional about what you would like to improve upon.  Scour the internet to find tips and tricks to help you with your goals

Help yourself.  Create a visual of each of your goals and put them someplace that you will see often to remind you of your end goal.  This will also help keep you focused.  Every time you walk by your reminder, affirm to yourself the positive outcomes that will accompany your hard work.

Celebrate.  If your goal can be attained within the month, be sure to celebrate when it’s accomplished.  If it is something that will take longer to accomplish, be sure to reward yourself along the way so that you stay motivated.

And when the month is over, take a look back and see how much better you feel as the new and improved you!

Goal Setting 101

homework

 

Whether it’s a scholarship that’s in your future or just a desire to get a better math grade than last year, the beginning of the school year is a great time to set some goals.

If you want to ensure that your goals get accomplished, follow these simple tips to keep you on track.

 

Start by making sure your goals are realistic.

Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by setting goals that you aren’t going to be able to accomplish.  Failure can deflate your confidence and affect other goals as well.  Don’t be vague in your goal setting and set a time limit.

 

Break it down.

Write down the steps it will take to finish your goal.  Keep track of how far you’ve come and how far you still need to go.  If necessary reward yourself at certain increments to keep your momentum going.

 

Make yourself accountable.

Tell a friend about your goals and check in with them periodically to make sure that you stay on track.  For more fun, make goals together and have a race to the finish.

 

Think positive.

Positive thinking is an essential factor when it comes to success.  Use positive language and thoughts when referring to your goals and you may be surprised how much farther you can get.

 

Goal setting is much more than simply saying you want something to happen. Remember to clearly define exactly what you want and make a plan to get there, and your odds of success will be within your reach.

 

So, what will you decide to accomplish today?

 

 

 

What Are Your Children Doing After School?

home-alone[1]

 

According to studies, the hours between 3 and 6 p.m. are the peak hours for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and sex.

With that in mind, do you sense a concern when you know that 15 million kids return to an empty home after school?

That being said, sometimes circumstances can’t be helped and there may be times when your kids will be the ones left alone until you can return home. Have you prepared them for when that time comes?

If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few tips to consider for your kids until you return.

 

1. SET Expectations, Goals, Rewards & Penalties … No matter the age of your children or what you are trying to do with them, it’s important to have them understand what you expect. You must also set real goals, rewards for a job well done, and penalties if something goes wrong.

 

2. DETERMINE the “Trust Factor” … On a scale of 1-5, how much do you trust your child to be home unattended? If the number is 1, you will need to keep your child busy, and possibly, set some high penalties if something goes wrong. If the number is 5, give your child enough tasks to remain productive and grow your trust.

 

3. TALK to Your Children Regularly … There is no such thing as over-communication when it comes to parents and kids. Have conversations with the entire family together and use dinner or breakfast as the time to catch up or discuss what’s going on or coming up.

 

4. FILL The Time … Set a schedule for your children so that each day is different and the projects fit their ages. Make sure there is enough for your child to do during the time he/she is left unattended at home. Also build in time for a short break so your children have time to unwind from a tough day at school. Again, depending on the age and “trust factor”, the amount of time that needs to be filled can vary.

 

5.  FOLLOW Through … No matter whether your children do a great job or a poor one, you must follow through with the rewards or penalties. Kids are smart enough to know whether a parent will stand by their word or not and whether there is any bite behind that bark. This is about teaching your children work ethic, responsibility and accountability, so praise and reward them for a job well done and remain strongly committed to the penalty you set for failing to meet the expectations.

 

Work + Positive Attitude = Success

 work hard

 

A strong work ethic – one that includes a positive and productive approach to work – is favored at home, at school, and in the work force.

 

Work ethic doesn’t just consist of the ability to work.  It is comprised of a person’s attitude, feelings, and beliefs about work.  When a person has a good work ethic they understand the benefits and importance of work and it’s ability to strengthen their character for the better.

 

Whether you have a good or a bad work ethic can determine how you set goals, how reliable you are, and how well you cooperate and communicate with others.  It can also determine the effort, timeliness, dedication, honesty, and determination you put into completing a task.  Your leadership and volunteerism choices are also impacted by your work ethic.

 

We may be able to bribe or threaten our children into working.  But is that accomplishing what we want it to?

 

Teaching our children to not only work but to have a positive attitude about work is the key. Here are some tips on how to create a good work ethic in your child.

 

Let them contribute with chores.

Even young children can do chores.  Parents shouldn’t feel they are burdening kids or robbing them of playtime. Children want to contribute and do things that make them feel valuable. Chores encourage the idea that service is expected in the family. If we don’t invite them to help, we miss an opportunity to teach and they miss an opportunity to learn.

 

Make Work Positive

If parents can tell or show kids how work contributes to the family’s well-being, children will be more positive about chores. Giving them choices can also help their attitude but don’t let them opt out.  Incentives can also make work more fun.

 

Let Them Fail

It’s the effort that counts. Don’t expect kids to always do their tasks well but resist the urge to step in and take over. If the child fails to water the plant, let it wilt or die. If teenagers have trouble on a job, or even get fired because they fail to show up on time or do the job correctly, don’t make excuses for them. Let them learn that their actions, or inactions, have consequences. Talk about what happened and ask them what they can do to keep from repeating their mistake. Don’t rub it in, but don’t let them shrug off what happened either.

 

Explain the “Why” of Work

As children get older, it’s important for parents to discuss the meaning and purpose of work. Now is the time to make it clear that jobs are not done for drudgery’s sake but to create value, make products, or serve people or even a greater good. A young person needs to learn that there is a purpose to work.  That doing a job well makes you a better person and enhances character and self-esteem. One way parents can start this discussion with their kids is by sharing their own work experiences – good and bad – and talk about the lessons they’ve learned and how they were shaped by those experiences.

 

Teach Patience

In real life, work isn’t always fun.  Sometimes the boss isn’t fair, customers are rude, and hours seem to drag by. Expect teens to complain about their jobs. Let them vent.  In fact, encourage it. After all, adults sometimes gripe about their jobs too. Just be ready to offer encouragement afterwards.

 

Model Good Work Ethic

Kids learn good work habits when their parents have good work habits. You are the one that can show them that work is important and that it’s part of a balanced life.  Resolve yourself that work is exactly what the name implies – work. There are things in life that aren’t going to be fun to do, but they still have to be done.  As an adult we can still have a positive attitude about it.

 

 

 

 

 

Money Lessons Kids Can Learn By Going On Vacation

vacation

 

Thinking about a family vacation?  Family vacations aren’t just about a week at the beach or theme park.  They are an investment toward your child’s character, a great bonding time between parents and kids, and it builds memories that will last a lifetime. Vacation planning and budgeting can also be a wonderful time to teach your kids about money.

According to T. Rowe Price’s 2012 Parent’s, Kids & Money Survey, while almost half of parents (45%) report involving kids in deciding where to go on vacation, they are falling short when it comes to taking advantage of vacation related teachable money moments.

This year, instead of calling a travel agent, gather your kids around the table and have them do the footwork and planning for your family vacation.

Brainstorm.  This is a great time to find out what each child likes and what is important to them.  Find out what they would like to do and find out what their priorities are as far as places to go and things to see.

Formulate a budget.  Vacation is a great time for your kids to learn that money is not an infinite resource.  Setting a budget can also help relieve your stress.  One of the main reasons we take a vacation is to relax and escape from stress.  Wouldn’t it be nice to relax and enjoy your vacation and not have to worry every time you reached into your pocket or better yet, return home refreshed instead of worrying about the next credit card bill.

Plan the details.  Now is the time for your children to learn about choices and trade-offs.  Keep goals and budget  decisions in the context of the conversation.  Discuss accommodations, meals, flying versus driving, etc.  Make pro and con lists for hard to decide items.  Make sure they consider the impact a decision will have in the long run.

Save for a goal.  Vacation is a privilege, not a right.  Encourage everyone to chip in.  Put decisions in context of other family saving goals, for example college funds.  Be an example to them when you contribute to the pot.  Track and share the progress of the vacation fund regularly.

Prepare ahead of time to save.  Hit the dollar store for a cheap travel bag with all the necessities.  Get the kids disposable cameras for great memories.  Let the kids complete “Get Ready To Go Jobs” such as cleaning out the car, stocking the pet food, packing snacks and clothes, to earn extra spending money while you are on your trip.

Remember the souvenirs.  Depending on the ages of your children, consider giving them some spending money for souvenirs.  This will alleviate constant “can I have” requests and put the decision making into their hands.

Be ready for changes.  Let the kids have a voice if changes need to be made.  Extra stops, time changes, and price increases can all send your vacation into a tailspin if you don’t have a backup plan.  Empower your children by letting them in on some of the decision making and decision changes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MyJobChart.com Proudly Adds Autism Speaks As Featured Charity

autism speaks

 

MyJobChart.com Proudly Adds Autism Speaks As Featured Charity

World Leader In Autism Research & Advocacy Can Now Benefit From Kids Completing Chores

 

Scottsdale, AZ (June 4, 2014) – MyJobChart.com Founder and CEO Gregg Murset announced this morning that Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization, will become the newest featured charity for members of the fastest growing online jobs and rewards website for kids. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects over 2 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide. Studies also show that ASD is four to five times more common among boys than girls. An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.

 

Starting immediately, kids will be able to complete their assigned jobs on MyJobChart.com and make the decision to donate to Autism Speaks. Additionally, parents or grandparents can choose to match the donation by using the MJC donation portal. MyJobChart.com will make an additional donation to Autism Speaks for each new member that enrolls through the link http://www.myjobchart.com/cobrand/autismspeaks as a way to give back and support such a worthy cause.

 

“I have personally heard from many parents of children with autism who have been using our free service to provide much needed structure for their son or daughter,” noted Murset. “As a Father of six, I want to do all I can to help other families who are dealing with this disorder. Autism Speaks is doing tremendous work leading the fight against autism and I hope the MJC kids and parents will join in and support them regularly.”

 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between 2 and 3 years of age.

 

“Autism Speaks is excited to partner with MyJobChart.com and proud to be one of the company’s featured charities,” said Lisa Goring, Autism Speaks executive vice president of programs and services. “We are confident that the site will serve as a great tool in helping to motivate individuals with autism of all ages, while increasing their independence and teaching them the important life skills of hard work and money management.”

 

About MyJobChart.com

MyJobChart.com, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a free, easy to use, online and mobile job chart and reward system designed to teach, organize and motivate kids to earn, save, share and spend responsibly. In a little more than three years, MyJobChart.com has accumulated more than 687,000 members, who have completed more than 22 million jobs, earned roughly $3 million and donated to numerous charities including The United Way, MANNA Worldwide, Forever Young Foundation, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation. MyJobChart.com can also be used through its Apple and Android mobile apps, allowing parents and kids the opportunity to save, share and spend from anywhere.

 

About Autism Speaks

Autism Speaks is the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization. It is dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. Autism Speaks was founded in February 2005 by Suzanne and Bob Wright, the grandparents of a child with autism. Since its inception, Autism Speaks has committed nearly $470 million dollars to its mission, the majority in science and medical services. On the global front, Autism Speaks has established partnerships and related activities in more than 40 countries on five continents to foster international research, services and awareness. To learn more about Autism Speaks, please visit AutismSpeaks.org.

 

 

 

 

More About Autism and How You Can Help

Autism

 

It is reported by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) around 1 in 68 American children are on the autism spectrum.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects over 2 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide. Studies also show that ASD is four to five times more common among boys than girls. An estimated 1 out of 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with autism in the United States.

Autism Speaks, the newest charity that can be found at MyJobChart.com, is in the forefront when it comes to increasing autism awareness and funding research.

ASD and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.

Each individual with autism is unique. Many of those on the autism spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills. About 40 percent have average to above average intellectual abilities. Indeed, many persons on the spectrum take deserved pride in their distinctive abilities and “atypical” ways of viewing the world.

Others with autism have significant disability and are unable to live independently. About 25 percent of individuals with ASD are nonverbal but can learn to communicate using other means.

Autism Speaks’ mission is to improve the lives of all those on the autism spectrum. For some, this means the development and delivery of more effective treatments that can address significant challenges in communication and physical health. For others, it means increasing acceptance, respect and support.

Some of the many resources you can find at Autismspeaks.org:

Apps that have been found helpful

Local and national events

Up to date advocacy news

Many online and other resources

The latest research and initiatives

New and ongoing clinical programs

Useful tool kits

Family services galore

And even an online screening for your child.

 

Research shows that early diagnosis and intervention with proven behavioral therapies can improve outcomes.  Autism Speaks is making sure that families develop and use critical advocacy skills in order to achieve this.

Sign up to MyJobChart.com today and share with Autismspeaks.org or make a donation today .

 

 

 

Work and Fun Summer Schedules

summer chores

 

The school year can be demanding on a family.  Summer is a great break from the regimented schedules and pressures of the school year, but it can also have it’s own set of challenges.

Swim lessons, sport camps, and managing your families “free time” can make your summer miserable if you’re not on top of things.

Being schedule free may be the most appealing part of summer, but for everyone’s sanity, I suggest sticking with the routines and modifying them for summer work and fun.

Modify your own schedule.  The laundry doesn’t go away just because it’s summer.  In fact, household chores may pile up even faster with all the kiddos home all day to help make messes.  Modify your schedule so there is a balance between your chores and spending time with the kids.

Keep the chores.  You may need to juggle or switch up some chores, but don’t get rid of them all together.  Kids may be looking for a “get out of work” card during the summer.  Life does change and so can chores, but teach your kids that the principle of work is an ongoing part of life.

Adjust your kids schedules to accommodate some free time.  Let them be agents of their own fun every now and then.  Turn off the T.V. and let their imaginations soar.

Mark up the calendar.  Put family vacations and bigger play dates or outings on the calendar so kids can have something to look forward to.

Be spontaneous.  Some of my fondest memories came because we jumped in the car at a moments notice.  Go with the flow and look for opportunities to have fun as each day progresses.

Earn $$$ for extra chores.  Give your kids an opportunity to earn a little money and help out around the house by doing extra chores.  These chores are above and beyond their normal chores and usually require a little more work to get done.  Make the reward fitting for the chore.

 

 

 

Observing Memorial Day With Kids

Flag Girl

Many people, adults included, confuse Memorial Day with Veterans Day.

Veterans Day is a festive celebration of military service people who are living. While Memorial Day ceremonies are more reflective and somber as we honor those who have lost their lives in military service.

To help your child understand Memorial Day, start by explaining the sacrifices military people make for our country.  Younger children may be frightened by war and death, so keep your explanation age appropriate.

The heritage of Memorial Day is sketchy.  I actually found several different originations in my research. Maybe the observance of the holiday is more important than where or how it originated.  But, here is one story to share with your young ones.  On May 30, 1868, Union General John A. Logan declared the day an occasion to decorate the graves of Civil War soldiers.  In 1950, Congress passed a resolution calling on Americans to observe each Memorial Day as a day of united prayer for peace.  And in 1971, President Richard M. Nixon declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.

You can also help you child gain a deeper understanding of the holiday by honoring it in age appropriate ways.  Besides attending the local community events that honor our vetrans, here are several ideas to get you started.

Wear red, white, and blue.

Fly a U.S. flag half-mast until 12 p.m.

Say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Decorate the graves of loved ones with flowers and flags.

Visit monuments dedicated to soldiers, sailors, and marines.

Participate in a National Moment of Remembrance at 3 p.m.

Watch the speech and wreath laying of the President at Arlington National Cemetery.

Email, make a thank-you card, or make a care package to send to soldiers on active duty.

Visit a veteran or give them a gift and thank them for serving.

Support a veteran by donating online at Wounded Warrior ProjectFolds of HonorUSO, or another of your choice.

Take doughnuts or cookies to your local veterans hospital or retirement home.

Make a patriotic craft.

Learn about the veterans in your family.

Go online and read the names of fallen soldiers.

Post a social network message or video thanking our veterans.

Watch the Memorial Day Slideshow here.

Do a random act of kindness in honor of those who gave their life for our country.

 

 

 

 

Is This a “Boy Chore” or a “Girl Chore”?

man doing chores

 

Gender stereotypes begin the second a baby’s gender is found out. If it’s a girl, you immediately begin decorating the nursery pink with flowers and butterflies.  Her closet is filled with frilly dresses and her toy box is filled with tea sets and dolls.

Stereotyping is no different when it’s a boy on the way. The nursery is decked out in blue and NFL team flags.  His closet is filled with tiny jeans, polo shirts, and boots, and his toys consist of trucks, dinosaurs, action figures, and balls.

A new report shows that parents may be teaching their children gender discrimination by assigning gender stereotypical household chores to their children.

Are you surprised to hear that most parents admit that they do not teach their sons how to wash the dishes or fold laundry? Instead, they teach them to take out the trash and mow the lawn.  And girls are often not expected to wash the car, rather, they are given chores such as preparing dinner, or vacuuming.

You may be thinking this is unfair, but the majority of American households today follow this pattern.

This report from NPR continues by stating that girls also do nearly two more hours of housework each week than boys.  And if that weren’t enough, boys are 10% more likely to be paid for doing their chores than girls are.

Professor Frank Stafford, University of Michigan, states, “One of the contending explanations (for unequal chores among boys and girls) would be sociological, that young girls are more or less, quote, “expected” to do more housework.  And so even without an incentive structure, they do end up performing substantially more housework and chores around the house than boys.”

In the last 30 years, as more and more women enter the workforce, the dynamics between men and women are changing, and the expectations of who completes the household chores when they get home is ever changing as well.

So, is there anything that we can do today to maintain equality on the home front now and in the future?

Assign Chores Fairly

Assigning chores and responsibilities based on gender teaches children that certain types of tasks are only for girls or boys.  Instead, divide chores equally or rotate who is responsible for each chore.

Set a Good Example

Children learn by imitating their parents, so avoid reinforcing gender stereotypes in your household. For example, if children see both parents doing household tasks such as cooking dinner, washing dishes or mowing the lawn, they’ll learn that both genders can perform such tasks. However, if parents divide responsibilities by gender roles or make statements such as “Fixing the car is your dad’s job” kids learn that certain activities are only for males or females.

 

Four Mistakes to Avoid When Teaching Your Kids About Money

 

Mistakes about teaching money 

Unfortunately, parenting doesn’t come with a manual.  If it did, my manual would be worn out, marked up, and dog eared on every page.  One area of parenting that I am concerned about is the financial literacy of my children.  I’ve learned many lessons about money on my own, through experience, and I would hope that I could teach my kids some of those things so they don’t have to go though the same negative experiences I did.

But, since there’s no book on the subject, not only my learning of the subject but also how I teach my kids about money has been through trial and error.  I figured I would share a couple of the things I’ve learned about teaching my kids about money.  In particular, four mistakes I’ve made.

 

Mistake number 1.  Not talking about money at all.  Let me ask you a question, do you think that you’re kids won’t do drugs or have sex if you simply never talk about it?  As a society we’ve learned the opposite.  And the age that we are teaching our kids about drugs and sex in school is getting younger and younger.  The same idea rings true with money.  To ensure your child’s financial success, you have to talk about money with them.  Don’t make it taboo.  And the earlier the better.  Teach them while they are young to respect money.  Give them plenty of opportunities to be comfortable with money so that it won’t be a stress in their lives.  Expose them in positive ways so that they can learn how to control money and their spending while they are young.

 

Mistake number 2.  Telling little white lies to stop the begging.  As parents we probably get hundred’s of requests form our kids on a daily basis.  Sometimes, especially when it comes to money, it’s easier to tell a little white lie than to tell your child the real reason behind your answer.  For example, “We can’t afford that,” or “I don’t have any cash on me right now.”  These answers may stop the winning temporarily, but direct, honest answers will get you better results.  Instead try, “I can afford that, but we’re not going to buy it because….”  Explaining your answer will get them thinking and make them more aware of typical money concerns.

 

Mistake number 3.  Bailing them out with a hand-out.  One of the lessons everyone has to learn in life, is that money is limited.  We all want more than we can afford, so we all have to learn to budget.  If your children fail, (and they probably will) don’t bail them out by giving them money to cover the balance.  Let them learn while the stakes are low, the consequences of living above their means.

 

Mistake number 4.  Paying for the large purchases they want.  We live in a world of instant gratification.  Instead of granting your kids their every wish, make them work for it.  Encourage them to think creatively about how they can earn more money.  Discuss their goals and help them set smaller benchmarks along the way.  Earning their purchase will make them be that much more grateful for it.

 

 

Chores, Everyone Has To Do Them, So We Might As Well Like Them

Running away

 

In the family photo album, there is a picture of my oldest daughter “running away”.

She was about 5 years old.  She was wearing pig tails and long johns.  She was running away because she didn’t want to do her cores.

She packed our red, hard sided suitcase with as many clothes as she could stuff in, grabbed her teddy bear, and was off.  But, she only made it as far as the neighbors house, since her suitcase was so heavy.

As a parent, I was amused but also worried, as I watched every strained step.  When I noticed her turn off down the pathway to the neighbors house, I quickly called my neighbor to give her a heads up.  She said she had an idea.

Turns out, as soon as my daughter asked my wise neighbor if she could stay with her, she was given a list of chores to do if she was going to live there, starting with the dishes immediately.

She did the dishes and then asked if she could come home.

Upon arrival at home she informed us that the neighbors had to do chores too!  How about that!  She said if she had to chores, she might as well just live at home and do her chores here.  I told her to start by cleaning up the mess she made in her room when she packed her suitcase.

I’m bringing up this story to make a couple of points.

First, chores, everyone has to do them.  We might as well just get used to it.  The only thing that makes them go away is to do them.  I have to do them, the neighbor has to do them, and their neighbor has to do them too.

And since everyone has to do them, that means that everyone also has to teach their kids how to do them.  Don’t feel like you are alone.  Instead, use friends and other resources for help.  Take a look on our website for many valuable tools in teaching your kids how to do chores.

Second, it’s all about the attitude.  If you ask any one of my 6 kids, they’ll tell you that my wife doesn’t like chocolate.  So, for every gift, corner store purchase, and ice cream order they will pick out the fruity choice for her.

If you talk with my wife, she’ll tell you that she likes chocolate very, very, much.  As much as the next woman.  But she tells herself that she doesn’t like it and she tells everyone else that she doesn’t like it so when a choice comes up, she chooses the fruity one instead.

Her reasoning, fruit is healthier, even if it is on ice cream.

Now if her reasoning is sound, that’s another story, but I like her attitude and how she goes about accomplishing it.

She figured out how to help herself make the hard choice of fruit over chocolate every day.  And I have to tell you, it works.

If she opts for the double chocolate sundae, my kids are all over her and she usually trades with someone before she’s finished.

So, attitude when it comes to chores is everything.  Instead of making laundry your enemy, make it your friend.  Find joy in the clean smell of the sheets, smile at the sparkling sink, and feel peace when you open up the uncluttered closet…and say all these things out loud when you think them so that your kids will feel the same.

Chores, everyone has to do them, so we might as well like doing them.

 

 

What I Learned In School

What I learned in school

 

I learned a great deal in school.  I learned how to spell Mississippi.  I learned how to find the area of a circle using pi.  I learned how to make a volcano out of baking soda and vinegar for the science fair.  In 5th grade I did a report on President Polk, so I know all about him.  I learned about planets, verbs, poetry, and Christopher Columbus.   I even learned how to dissect a frog.

What I didn’t learn in school was how to save money.  I didn’t learn how to budget.  I didn’t learn how to calculate interest on a loan.  I didn’t learn the value of a dollar.

We send our kids to school so that someday they can grow up and get a good job.  But once they get the job, we stop teaching them, and they are left to figure out for themselves how to manage their money.

What can we do in the home to help our children be financially literate when they are ready to leave the nest?

Talk about it.  Teach them as you go about your daily life.  In the grocery store, when the bills come in the mail, when saving for something big, discuss the specifics with your children.  Talk about how much things cost and how to save for big purchases.  Teach them the definition of different monetary terms – interest rates, cash back, stock market, etc.  Discuss budgets and how your family chooses to spend their money.

Let them make decisions.  The more opportunities they have to work with money and manage it, the more money savvy they will be as adults.  Give them real world experiences.  Give them an allowance and let them get a summer job.  Here’s another example: next time you go to a restaurant give them the option of getting a soda with their meal or getting the dollar that it would have cost.  You may even have second thoughts about ordering a soda yourself!

Set goals.  Once they understand money and how it works, think bigger.  Have them figure out how to save for bigger purchases and make monetary goals.

Remember, part of learning is making mistakes.  If your child opts to spend their entire allowance on a toy that you know will be broken in a week, let them do it and learn from the consequences.

Instead of sending your children off with no financial literacy, or having them learn about money from television, friends, or from broken pieces of your conversations, sit them down and talk about money with them, let them make decisions, and encourage them to set monetary goals for their future.

Teaching Your Kids About Credit Cards

kids and credit cards

 

I always get asked, “When should I start teaching my kids about credit cards?”

Well, I suggest teaching your kids about money around the age of 5.  And honestly, teaching them about money is the beginning of teaching them about credit and credit cards.

If you want your kids to be responsible credit card holders, then they have to start young, by using their money, which usually comes by form of allowance, responsibly.

I used to suggest that kids learn to use cold, hard, cash first.  But, today, cash is almost a thing of the past.

Teach them how to use a debit card wisely.  They need to learn how to spend their money without overdrawing their account.  This can take more discipline than using cash because they have to know how much money they have without seeing it in their hand.

Also, don’t enroll them in an overdraft protection plan.  They may have a debit transaction declined, which could cause some embarrassment, but hopefully they’ll learn a lesson about balances.

Other lessons that can be learned about credit cards from using a debit card are how to control spending, paying bills on time, balancing their account, and how to avoid fees.  These lessons all take time, but start young and don’t leave them to learn on their own.  Help them out along the way.

Don’t scare them – arm them with information.  Teach them how to be responsible credit card users.  Go over your credit card statement with them and explain concepts like minimum payment and interest rate.  Talk about the importance of paying the balance in full.  As they get older you can discuss credit scores, credit reports, and building good credit.

It takes time to build credit history.  Don’t speed the process up by cosigning for them or naming them as an authorized used on your credit card.  Young adults can’t get a credit card of their own until they are 21 or until they can prove a steady income.  Stick with what the professionals know and let them wait.   As long as you are paying the bill, your kids won’t take responsibility or learn anything.  And you are putting your credit on the line if they mess up.  If they really want one, then check into getting them a secured card with their own savings.

According to the Experian Intelliview tool, as of 2013, the approximate revolving credit card debt in the US was $850 Billion, and the average balance per consumer was $3,779.  So, it’s going to happen.  Someday your child is going to get a credit card and someday they may even be in debt.   Save them some misery and teach them now to be a wise credit card holder.

Are You Always Late?

Are you always late

 

Does being on time seem impossible, no matter how important the event?  Are you always running out the door in a frenzy?  Have you ever wished you could break the pattern?

Well, don’t be discouraged.  Being late is a habit that you can break overnight.  But, only if it’s important to you.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  We’re not talking about the occasional late because of an accident on the freeway.  We’re talking about the person that gets told that lunch is at 11:30 when it’s really at noon, because everyone knows that you always show up late.

If this sounds familiar, if being punctual isn’t one of your priorities, let’s look at why, maybe, it should be.

First, lets look at the consequences of being late.

Being late is stressful.  It leads to racing, worried, and anxious feelings.

Being late is embarrassing.  The first few minutes after arriving anywhere is spent apologizing.

Being repeatedly late creates a negative reputation.  People feel that they cant trust you or rely on you.

Being late impacts relationships.  The people around you, that have to constantly make-up for your lost time, begin to resent you.

Being late affects your self-esteem.  It makes you feel like you have not control over a situation that you should have control over.

Are you motivated to make a change yet?  If not, Dr. Phil has some words that may make you think twice about being late next time.  He says to get real about your tardiness.  If you are always late, but tell yourself that you try to be on time, get real.  Be honest with yourself.  Start by admitting that you really aren’t trying as hard as you could.

Dr. Phil also puts a strong spin on tardiness.  He claims that if you are always late or procrastinate, it is a way of manipulating and controlling a situation at the expense of others.  He calls it an arrogant behavior.

You may disagree, but he claims that when you are late, you are making everything about you and you are unfairly imposing your time schedule on others and assuming that others should wait on you.

Take what you will from Dr. Phil’s profound ideas on being late.  I don’t consider myself a “late” person.  In general I tend to be early.  But, after hearing his ideas on tardiness, I have to say that I’m planning on putting more time into being prepared so I’m not late next time.

Check back next week for some tips on how to be on time and some characteristics of “on time” people.  I think you’ll be enlightened.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Your Child Have Leadership Skills?

Does your child have leadership skills

 

Some kids are just natural born leaders.  You may think that your kid isn’t one of them.   But all kids have leadership potential.   And as parents, we can help develop and enhance those skills that will not only set them up to be leaders, but will also benefit the rest of their lives.

Just pushing someone toward the role of leader doesn’t mean that they will be a good or effective leader.  In fact, the title of leader itself means nothing unless that person has earned it, they have the respect of those around them, and they have the self confidence to do it.

You can start by teaching your child that being a leader means that they are in charge of what happens to them instead of being captive to what someone else says will happen to them.  Following the crowd can leave them open to all kinds of outside influences and affect their choices if they can’t stand up for themselves.

You can also help them develop good communication skills.  Give your child opportunities to speak, listen, and read.  Interacting with others will help develop their understanding of the world and help them develop empathy towards others.

You can encourage their independence.  A 5 year old probably can’t cook eggs for breakfast, but they can pour their own cereal.  Let them grown in your home, where there are safe limits.  Let them play independently and let their imagination grow.  And if they tell you they can do something, let them do it.

Teamwork may seem like a skill that contradicts independence, but they need to realize that a team can get more accomplished than a single person.  The family is a great place to model this principle.

Instill confidence in them. Praise them often.  Remember that what may seem insignificant to you, may mean the world to them.  Help their self esteem grow by letting them do harder things.  Even if it isn’t done perfect, praise them for their effort (and resist the urge to fix it).

Support organization, planning, and strategizing.  Illustrate yourself how to manage time.  Guide them when it comes to goals and help them break down larger tasks into smaller pieces that can be accomplished quicker.  Check lists, in written and picture form, are great ways to help with this.

Most kids know how to manipulate their parents to get what they want, but superior forms of conflict resolution, like negotiating and compromising are great leadership skills to possess.  Teach your kids how to bend.  If they can learn to give as well as take, then everyone wins.

And last but not least, problems happen.  Life isn’t always fair.  Persistence and determination even when things don’t work out is an essential leadership skill.  Solving problems without getting frustrated is a great skill that will help them in all aspects of their life.

 

 

 

 

Kids In Charge Day

Kids In Charge Day

If your kids ever complain about “too many rules”, or suggest that they want more independence, we’ve got an idea that may just help stop the groaning.

Around my house it’s an annual tradition or “holiday” if you will.  We call it, Kids In Charge Day, and my kids love it!

Here’s how it works.

Once a year, on a given date, the kids are in charge of a whole day.  I mean everything.  Including what, when, and where we eat, what we wear, what we do and where we go, even when we go to bed.  It’s a great time as parents to watch them spread their wings and be in charge.  It’s also a great time to see what’s important to them.  And you get to see how their interests change over the years as they get older.  Here’s more details to make your Kids In Charge Day a success.

Plan ahead.  Give them plenty of notice and have a planning day about a week before your Kids In Charge Day.  Give them a checkbox type of outline to help them map out their day.  Include specifics such as what they would like to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, what crafts or family activities they would like to do, and if they have a special outing in mind. This gives you a chance to have everything they request ready as well.

Set your limits ahead of time.  Be up front with specific dollar amounts and maybe even a mile radius that you are willing to work with.  This will alleviate disappointments and arguments later.

And when the day comes…

Relax on the rules.  Let things slide.  You may cringe at the mess or grit your teeth at the junk food consumed but remember…it’s just 1 day.

Have fun.  Drop all the guilt and enjoy the experience.  Make yourself available and give the kids your undivided attention.

Capture the moments.  Keep a camera handy so you can catch all the wacky things that transpire.  Make a Kids In Charge Day book and flip back through it every year to remember favorite things from years past.

Next time the kids start groaning about how unfair life is, just remind them that their day in charge is coming up and the groaning will change to a discussion about what time they’ll tell you to go to bed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kids Learn Fundamentals of Leadership Through MyJobChart.com

Kids learn leadership

 

Do an Internet search for the term “Leadership” and you will immediately find thousands of websites with long lists of famous, and not so famous, quotes on the subject. Each day, these words of wisdom from Presidents, Foreign Heads of State, Football Coaches, Philosophers and Business Leaders are used throughout the world in hopes driving someone to become a leader. However, actions always speak louder than words, and for the millions of children in organizations with the goal of building leaders, it’s always what you do that matters.

February is National Youth Leadership Month in the U.S. and MyJobChart.com is doing its part in helping prepare leaders by providing the means for kids to demonstrate responsibility, accountability, generosity and teamwork. In just about three years, nearly 600,000 kids have completed more than 20 Million jobs and earned nearly $3 million. Along the way, MJC kids have run lemonade stands, took dogs for walks, mowed grass and served as babysitters – all jobs that demonstrate leadership and could result in a new business.

“When it comes to becoming a leader, practice makes perfect,” said MyJobChart.com CEO and Founder Gregg Murset. “I applaud the organizations whose intent is to help kids become leaders and good citizen. However, this is a task much larger than these organizations. Kids 17 and under spend the majority of life split between school and home, and so, this is where the main effort has to be. As NFL Hall of Fame Football Coach Vince Lombardi said a long time ago – “Leaders aren’t born they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.”

To help parents and schools reinforce leadership behavior, Murset, CEO of MyJobChart.com offers the following suggestions:

 

1.  Lead, Don’t Follow – As a parent, do a better job of encouraging our child to be in front of the crowd and not following it. We often tell our kids to blend in, make friends and feel comfortable. Children should be challenged to find opportunities to be first, take on additional responsibilities or get involved at school and in their communities.

 

2. Respectfully Challenge Authority – Let your child know that it’s OK to have an opinion and to support that opinion, even to teachers and other adults. The key, however, is to always present a respectful and educated argument. As adults, your child will face a world full of individuals ready to tell them how wrong they are, so let them learn now how to state their case.

 

3. Support Their Passion – At some point children become passionate about something – school, art, sports, scouting, theater, music, etc. Parents should support this passion but always guide the child to play a larger role, be a vocal leader of a group or lead by example.

 

4. Don’t Praise Failure – Somewhere along the way we became a society where everyone had to win, everyone gets a trophy and no one was allowed to celebrate on the playing field because it made the other team feel bad. At some point everyone has to fail. When it happens, help your child learn from it, develop character from it and understand that in real life, many successful people have failed before achieving greatness. Remember Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, Bill Gates first company was a huge flop and Steve Jobs was fired by the company he started (Apple).

 

5.  Make Every Moment Count – There are always moments when any child will mumble “There’s nothing to do.” At that point, talk to your child about taking advantage of the temporary lull to work on a project associated with something they are involved in. Challenge them to work ahead in school, build a business plan, call others to work on a team project or practice a sport, or read about someone who has succeeded in life.

 

6. Always Stand Behind It – Accountability goes a long way in any phase of life. Teach your child that being accountable will gain them respect and demonstrate maturity. Show them the numerous examples when politicians, sports figures and young entertainers made mistakes and failed to be accountable. Then show examples of those who handled a bad situation totally different and how being accountable changed the public opinion.

 

About MyJobChart.com

MyJobChart.com, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a free, easy to use, online and mobile job chart and reward system designed to teach, organize and motivate kids to earn, save, share and spend responsibly. The company is the fastest growing online tool that brings together the latest technology and basic personal finance principles to help parents teach their children responsibility and accountability. Over the past two years, MyJobChart.com has accumulated nearly 600,000 members, who have completed more than 20 million jobs, earned roughly $3 million and donated to many charities including The United Way, Operation Smiles, MANNA Worldwide and Heifer International. MyJobChart.com can also be used through its Apple and Android mobile apps, allowing parents and kids the opportunity to save, share and spend from anywhere.  For more information, visit www.myjobchart.com.

MyJobChart.com Welcomes Heifer International as Premier Charity

It is estimated that nearly 870 million people of the 7.1 billion people in the world, or one in eight, are suffering from chronic undernourishment, and 1.3 million poor people in developing countries live on $1.25 a day or less. In order to bring increased awareness and funding to the global issue, MyJobChart.com and Heifer International are announcing a strategic alliance that will have Heifer International listed as one of premier charities on the MyJobChart.com website.

“We are very excited to list Heifer International as one of our premier charities,” said MyJobChart.com Founder and CEO Gregg Murset. “World hunger and poverty aren’t issues that can be solved overnight or by one organization. Our nearly 600,000 members will now have the chance to contribute to this great effort by completing assigned jobs and sharing their earnings.”

MyJobChart.com brings together the latest technology and basic personal finance principles to help parents teach their children responsibility, accountability and how to manage money wisely. In just about three years, MJC kids have completed over 20 million jobs and earned nearly $3 million.

Heifer International is a global nonprofit humanitarian assistance organization working to help end hunger and poverty, while at the same time protecting the environment. Heifer provides living gifts of area-appropriate livestock and training in environmentally sound agricultural practices to families in need to help lift themselves out of poverty to become self-reliant.

“It is great how MyJobChart.com empowers children to be responsible, both in the home and in the global community,” said Heifer International President and CEO Pierre Ferrari. “This constructive focus on the three steps of Save, Share, and Spend is admirable.  Being part of an approach that encourages a thoughtful way of living is inspiring.”

About MyJobChart.com

MyJobChart.com, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a free, easy to use, online and mobile job chart and reward system designed to teach, organize and motivate kids to earn, save, share and spend responsibly. Bringing together the latest technology and basic personal finance principles to help parents teach their children responsibility, accountability and how to manage money wisely. MyJobChart.com can also be used through its Apple and Android mobile apps, allowing parents and kids the opportunity to save, share and spend from anywhere.  For more information, visit www.myjobchart.com

 

About Heifer International

Heifer International’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. Since 1944, Heifer International has provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. Heifer is currently working in 30 countries, including the United States, to help families and communities become more self-reliant. For more information, visit www.heifer.org call 1-888-5HUNGER (888-548-6437).

 

 

 

Kids Complete 20 Million Jobs Through MyJobChart.com

There has always been a silent workforce in America – our kids. Completing home chores for an allowance has been handed down from generation to generation, and our kids (the silent workforce) have learned about work ethic, responsibility and accountability by being able to complete assigned jobs.

Leading the way to help kids achieve success is MyJobChart.com, which today announced that its membership of nearly 600,000 has earned close to $2.5 million by completing over 20 million jobs. Already the fastest growing online job chart and reward system for families, MyJobChart.com has seen its membership grow by more than 900% in the last three years, demonstrating that parents are using modern technology to engage their kids and get jobs done.

“According to the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics there are 74 million kids under 18 years old currently in the U.S.,” noted MyJobChart.com CEO and Founder Gregg Murset. “This is an unbelievable workforce, but more so, it is also our future. It is extremely important that as parents we make sure our kids understand the meaning of work ethic, responsibility, accountability and managing money, so they are best prepared to be successful adults.”

Among the 20 million jobs completed by MyJobChart.com kids, brushing teeth, making beds and getting dressed on time rank at the top of the list. The Top 10 jobs completed are:

 

Brushing Teeth                                      2,632,191

Making The Bed                                    1,322,135

Get Dressed On Time                           1,057,970

Cleaning Bedroom                                   911,106

Comb/Brush Hair                                    854,358

Say Prayers                                                748,650

Do Homework                                          615,214

Clear Table After Meals                          612,482

Take Bath/Shower                                   546,409

Take Care of Pets                                     498,415

 

As kids complete jobs, MyJobChart.com keeps track of their earned points that they convert into money to save, share or spend. The site allows parents to set up bank accounts to teach the importance of saving; enables kids to share by donating to one of many charitable organizations and offers access to an integrated Amazon.com store where parents can purchase reward items or help kids learn responsible spending. The site doesn’t require financial incentives and parents can also create free rewards, such as a day at the park, extra TV time or a family bike ride.

 

About MyJobChart.com

MyJobChart.com, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a free, easy to use, online and mobile job chart and reward system designed to teach, organize and motivate kids to earn, save, share and spend responsibly. Bringing together the latest technology and basic personal finance principles to help parents teach their children responsibility, accountability and how to manage money wisely. MyJobChart.com can also be used through its Apple and Android mobile apps, allowing parents and kids the opportunity to save, share and spend from anywhere.  For more information, visit www.myjobchart.com

MyJobChart.com Partners with MANNA Worldwide to Help Needy Children

 

Scottsdale, AZ (January 20, 2014) – It’s no secret that poverty is a worldwide problem.  Currently it’s estimated that more than 1 billion people are lacking adequate access to clean drinking water, including an estimated 400 million children. Also due to improper funding or infrastructure, 19 million children worldwide remain unvaccinated and a quarter of all humans live without electricity (approximately 1.6 billion people).

To help bring increased awareness to these issues and raise money to support projects around the world, MyJobChart.com is announcing that MANNA Worldwide (www.mannaworldwide.com) has become a charity partner. As a MyJobChart.com charity partner, MANNA Worldwide will be listed alongside several other key charities that are able to receive donations directly from the more than 580,000 MyJobChart.com members.

“I hope that adding MANNA Worldwide to our list of charity partners is just the first step toward making a difference for one child, one family or one community,” noted MyJobChart.com Founder and CEO Gregg Murset. “This organization is working very hard to break the cycle of poverty for needy children around the world and I know that our members will use this opportunity to help.”

MANNA Worldwide, with 141 individual projects in more than 35 different countries, has a passion for helping needy children and their families around the world. Through partnerships with churches, missionaries, individuals, businesses, and local governments around the world, MANNA is able to provide food, clothing, medical assistance, educational assistance, and spiritual guidance to those marginalized by society.

“We are extremely encouraged and welcome the partnership between MANNA Worldwide and MyJobChart.com,” stated MANNA Founder and CEO Bruce O’Neal.  “We highly value and recognize the importance of training children for their future.  MyJobChart.com has pioneered a method of teaching our children both personal, as well as social, responsibility that is both fun and relevant to our culture.”

About MyJobChart.com

MyJobChart.com, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a free, easy to use, online and mobile job chart and reward system designed to teach, organize and motivate kids to earn, save, share and spend responsibly. Bringing together the latest technology and basic personal finance principles to help parents teach their children responsibility, accountability and how to manage money wisely. Over the past two years, MyJobChart.com has accumulated nearly 600,000 members, having completed about 20 million jobs and earning roughly $3 million. MyJobChart.com can also be used through its Apple and Android mobile apps, allowing parents and kids the opportunity to save, share and spend from anywhere.  For more information, visit www.myjobchart.com.

Save Money by Going Green: 5 Things to Teach Your Kids

 

Many people associate the idea of going green with high expenses, but you don’t have to install solar panels or buy pricey organic items to live an eco-friendly lifestyle. In fact, there are simple green steps you and your kids can take each and every day to save money.

1.  Show your children how to recycle. Sorting out the recyclables from the trash is a great chore for your children and it can show them the importance of going green. Recycling keeps unnecessary waste from the landfill and often brings new life to things that could otherwise be discarded. And certain recyclable products, such as aluminum cans, can earn your children money. It may not amount to very much each month, but you might encourage them to save up their hard-earned money for a special toy or treat.

2.  Reuse recyclables for projects. Not everything that’s recyclable needs to make it to the recycling center right away. In fact, there are plenty of alternatives for your used products. An empty soda bottle can be transformed into a bird feeder, the back of used computer paper makes a perfect canvas for drawings and of course you can always make classic tin can phones. Teach your kids to get creative with the resources you have.

3.  Teach electricity savings. Most electricity is generated from fossil fuels, which leak emissions into the atmosphere and are said to be the cause of a global climate shift. Although the nation is moving away from coal-fired power plants, the emissions they have caused are still a serious issue. Fortunately, everyone can do their part to help ward off climate change—including children. Teach your kids to turn off the lights when they leave a room and remind them to keep the refrigerator closed. If your children are responsible for doing their laundry, ask them to use cold water and to hang dry their clothes to save energy. If you have a child loading and emptying the dishwasher, ask that he or she avoids the heat dry cycle and allow the dishes to air dry instead.

4.  Make water conservation a priority. Saving water can help cut down on both your water and your electricity bill. The hot water heater is often the second largest energy consumer in the average household, so minimizing your water use can help lower your expenses. Make water conservation a priority in your household. Give your children a time limit in the shower and make sure the water isn’t left running as they go through their morning and nighttime routine in the bathroom.

5.  Plant a garden.Sometimes going green is as easy as exercising your green thumb. Planting a garden is a great way to teach your children about the environment and it can help you save energy. Instead of purchasing produce that’s been shipped across the country, grow your favorite veggies in your backyard. Not only will it cut down on your family’s environmental impact, it is a cheaper and fresher option than buying produce in the store.

Implementing these green strategies is even easier with the My Job Chart app. Just add these activities as daily or weekly chores on your app to ensure that your kids stay focused and on track for your family’s money-saving and green goals.

 

Clint Robertson is a freelance writer who has held numerous positions in the energy industry. His work promotes ways to reduce our carbon footprint through the development and utilization of renewable energy sources. You can reach out to him directly on twitter.

 

Giving Your Kids a Financial Education

 

 

When it comes to your kids, as parents, we have many concerns.  From their growth and discipline to their schooling and future, parents have lots to worry about.

 

Hopefully, at the top of your “worry list” is their financial education.

 

Consider this, the average young adult acquires $45,000 in debt by the time they turn 29, according to a recent PNC Bank report.

 

“This generation of 20-somethings was raised during an economically-thriving period,” says financial expert Mark Hansen, author of Success 101 for Teens. “Undisciplined spending habits, student and car loans, and a tough job market have stymied their financial growth. Perhaps the worst culprit is financial ignorance, but we can count this as a lesson for future 20-somethings.  For young people, organizing finances can be intimidating to the point of prohibitive.  We need to have a curriculum in schools, from kindergarten through 12th grade, that ensures our kids graduate with financially literacy.  From balancing a checkbook to understanding what it means to pay – and earn – interest, kids need basic money management skills to survive in the world, and most aren’t getting them.”

 

Helping kids financially means more than handing them money.  We need to teach them the basics of being fiscally fit.  A couple places to start…

 

Make them earn it.  When you have to work for something rather than being handed it, it means more to you.  You tie the sweat and time spend earning the money to what you turn around and buy with it.  You aren’t as quick to make purchases and you take better care of what you do buy.  Getting something for nothing never taught any principles.

 

Be consistent.  I know exactly what it’s like to raise a family.  I know how many strings are pulling you in every direction.  I know how hard it is to check up and make sure that chores are done – according to the specified standards.  I also know how hard it is to tell your kids no when they come to your for money.  But if you value your child’s financial education, you’ll look at the long term effects of being consistent and stick to your guns.

 

Help them understand interest.  There is interest that works for you and then there is interest that doesn’t.  Your money in the bank can grow because of interest, but money borrowed can work against you if it’s not paid back in a timely manner.  Show them examples from your own bank and credit card statements.  Help them understand the benefits of saving and the pitfalls of borrowing.

 

Give them a monetary incentive.  There was a boy that wanted more allowance.  His dad told him that his allowance could be increased by whatever money the boy could help the family save.  The boy walked away and the dad thought the issue was over.  But, over the next few weeks, the boy received over $300 after finding and changing several behaviors and situations that his family was wasting or overspending their money on.  Give your child a goal, something to work for, and you may just be surprised at what they can teach you too!

Award Winning Journalist – David Wolman, joins MyJobChart.com Advisory Board

Let Your New Years Resolution Work for You Financially

Do you have any New Years Resolutions? According to a 2012 survey by University of Scranton, an estimated 190 million Americans make a yearly list of things to do or improve upon. If by chance, one of your items is to create a financial plan, live on a budget or get debt under control, then January is the perfect month for you to map a course to stronger financial stability.

January has been designated National Financial Wellness month in the U.S. and MyJobChart.com recommends making resolutions that are achievable for you but can also serve as teachable moments for your children. The average adult will make thousands of financial decisions during the next year, including many which will be made with kids watching or listening.

To help move your children in the right direction in 2014, Gregg Murset, CEO of MyJobChart.com and a Certified Financial Planner offer the following out of the box suggestions:

No More Hand Outs.

Start the year off right by deciding that you are not going to just shell out money to your kids anymore.  When they come to looking for money, let them know that they will have to work for it.  The bank is now closed unless they start pulling their weight a little more around the house. Tying work and reward together in some meaningful ways will help them understand responsibility and accountability. It will also help them understand that in real life, no one ever gets money for doing nothing.

Smash The Piggy Bank.

Piggy Banks are a bad way to teach kids about money.  That’s right, take that piggy bank and smash it or throw it away.  Long gone are the days when we should be teaching our kids about money by dropping coins into a bank that looks like a pig, jar or favorite sport team mascot.  Using banks like these only teach children about money in a manner that isn’t as relevant anymore.  Get them a real bank account and teach them how to manage their money though online services.  It is far more useful to learn to manage money in a bank rather than a pig.

Make Kids Pay… For The Cell Phone, That Is.

According to Consumer Reports the average mobile phone user spends about $600 a year.  If you do the math, you’re going to be shocked at how much you are going to be spending over the years so that your kids can send hundreds of meaningless texts each month to their friends!  Kids should pay some, or all of their phone bill each month. This is a perfect opportunity for you to sit down and teach your children about how much things cost, especially things that they seem to think they are entitled to for some reason.  This is also a great time to discuss the things that they can do around the house to earn the money to help pay that bill.

Play The Match Game.

Set up a matching program for your kids.  They save a dollar and you match that dollar.  Yes, 100% return.  Sit down and determine what they would like to save for and then set out to accomplish it together.  This is a great opportunity to talk about short term, mid-term and long term goals. When a child learns the power of savings like this at an early age, what do you think will happen when they get their first job and they learn about the 401(k) program that is available?

Comic Books To Teach Kids About Money?  Now That’s Just Dumb.

Last year a credit card company teamed up with a leading comic book to teach kids about personal banking practices.  Talk about a square peg in a round hole.  They supposedly were going to distribute 150,000 of these square pegs in eight different languages.  Why does something as important as personal finance have to be jammed into little white blurbs above super heroes heads in a comic book? Parents should be fighting to get personal finance taught in our schools not forcing the subject where it doesn’t really fit.

Make Them Better Givers.

No matter how your children earn their money, make sure they plan to donate a portion of it to a charity of their choice. The average American gives away about 4% of their annual income to charity and perhaps that percentage would increase if the next generation made giving a common practice as soon as they learned how to share with important causes.

Set Goals That Are Meaningful.

A start of a new year is a great time to sit down with children and talk goals.  Meaningful goals. Help your children put together a plan on working toward and saving for something significant. It could be a bike, musical instrument, laptop computer or a future college degree. The more meaningful the goal, the harder our kids will work to accomplish it.

About MyJobChart.com

MyJobChart.com, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a free, easy to use, online and mobile job chart and reward system designed to teach, organize and motivate kids to earn, save, share and spend responsibly. Bringing together the latest technology and basic personal finance principles to help parents teach their children responsibility, accountability and how to manage money wisely. Over the past two years, My Job Chart now has over 565,000 members, with kids having completed over 19.5 million jobs and earned nearly $3 million. MyJobChart.com can also be used through its Apple and Android mobile apps, allowing parents and kids the opportunity to save, share and spend from anywhere.  For more information, visit www.myjobchart.com.

 

 

A Year From Now, You’ll Wish You Had Started Today

 

How many times in your life have you looked back and realized that x number of years ago you thought of doing something and now x number of years have passed and you didn’t do it.  If only you would have hunkered down and made the sacrifice or put forth a little extra effort, you could be enjoying the benefits right now instead of feeling guilty about not doing it.

Well, right now, a whole year is ahead of you.  Now you can do what you wish you would have done last year.

If you are like so many others out there, today is the day to make new year resolutions or goals for the upcoming year.

To make changes in your life takes a shift in thought.  And it takes time for new things to become habits.  You need to be aware and conscious of every choice you make and hold yourself accountable for choices that lead you toward your goals or take you away from them.

To begin with, you need to make realistic goals.  Here are some ideas to get you started.

 

1.  Spend time with family and friends.  Improve your relationships with those closest to you.  Stop wasting time.  Make the time you spend with friends and family more meaningful.   Tell them you love them as often as possible and show them you love them more than that.

 

2.  Take care of your body.  Be active and eat better.  Exercise more regularly and be more aware of what you put into your body.  Stop making excuses.  Become the person on the outside that will support the person you are on the inside.

 

3.  Stop bad habits.  Even if you have tried and failed before…try again.  Don’t stop yourself before you even start.  Have a positive attitude and come up with a plan.  Find someone to help you be accountable.

 

4.  Enjoy life more.  Stop being negative.  Be more spontaneous.  Do that thing that you always loved to do but haven’t done in forever.  Do some soul searching.  Write in a journal.  Be more grateful for what you do have.

 

5.  Get out of debt.  Live on a budget.  Save money.  Eat out less.  Teach your kids about money.

 

6.  Learn something new.  Overcome a fear.  Old dogs are never too old to learn new tricks.  What have you always wished you could do?  Do it!

 

7.  Help others.  Donate to your favorite organization.  And if you don’t have extra cash to help others – give of your time. Volunteer with an organization you are passionate about.  Become a mentor.  Donate unwanted items to help others.

 

8.  Get organized.  De-clutter your home.  Reduce your stuff.  Institute meal planning.  Institute a chore system.  Live more simple.  Find peace in your home.

 

If you read through the above list and thought of something in particular that you want to start or change about yourself,  write it down and stick it somewhere you will see everyday.

Stay positive and stick with it.  Good luck!

 

 

 

8 Tips To Raise A Confident Reader

 

Building a child’s reading confidence can be quite challenging, since they’re more exposed to modern technology. However, reading is an important skill that children should learn and it helps build self-esteem. Now, to help parents develop their kids’ confidence in reading, here are eight tips for them:

 

1. Use Reading Apps

Books are still the best resource to teach a child how to read, but mobile applications offer interactive benefits to help reinforce healthy reading habits. A PBS 2013 study revealed that apps can help kids learn new vocabulary in just two weeks. Verizon’s Andrea Meyer said that parents can help their children practice reading through reading apps. In a feature she wrote, Meyer recommends Dr. Seuss’ e-books which includes stories like “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham.” Also, familiarizing them with mobile technology will prepare them for the digital future ahead.

2. Always Read Aloud

Readingaloud helps boost a child’s imagination and creativity. This develops their basic language skills, comprehension, and vocabulary. Aside from these, it also teaches them different emotions like joy, anger, fear, and sadness. Since children yearn for attention from their parents, reading aloud makes them feel wanted and safe. Once they’ve memorized those stories by heart, they would eventually become storytellers themselves.

3. Let Them Read to You

Sometimes, children can be overcome with shyness especially when reading in front of the class. To help them overcome their “stage fright,” they should be encouraged to read to their siblings or parents. This develops their confidence to face an audience and read without fear. Since reading is all about practice, parents can also set it as their kid’s personal goal. Using the My Job Chart app will help motivate them to accomplish their reading goal and earn reward points in the end.

4. Build a Library at Home

In an article published on Science Daily, it revealed that by having books can increase a child’s education level. It’s recommended that a common household should have at least 20 books for children to read. They’re also inexpensive investments which will help them better readers and writers. As Neil Gaiman said in his lecture at the Reading Agency: “we need our children to get onto the reading ladder: anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy.”

5. Books are Good for Bonding

Bonding over books is one of the best ways to build a child’s reading confidence. It would be nice if parents would share their favorite story or fairy tale with their kids. Tell them that these stories were also read to them by their parents or grandparents. They can also encourage them to share their favorite stories and discuss it with them. What lessons can they get from it? Was the villain really that bad?

6. Explore New Words with Them

Sometimes, a new book can intimidate kids especially if it has new words or phrases. They may feel that their parents are pushing them too hard. This shouldn’t be the case and the best way to do it is to explore it with them. Parents should let them feel that they’re there to learn with them. Become a team of word explorers and discover the magic behind them. Just make sure to do it slowly, otherwise it may turn them off.

7. Make Reading a Pleasurable Experience

Instead of letting them watch television or use their mobile devices to surf the Internet, encourage them to read.Readingshould bring them pleasure and excitement. It shouldn’t be a chore or an assignment. Show them that through reading, they can unlock new worlds, discover interesting characters, and learn new words. Make it interesting for them by making voices, acting lines out, and being funny. Once they’ve associated reading as a pleasurable experience, they’ll eventually fall in love with reading.

8. Let Them Choose the Books They Want to Read

Don’t limit their imagination to stories they’ve already read; let them choose their own stories instead. Ask them what interests them when visiting the local bookstore. If they’re interested in reading comic books, let them be. Whatever they want to read—as long as it’s age-appropriate—let them read it. It’s a good sign that they becoming intelligent and confident readers.

 

A home is the perfect place to help shape children into better people. By introducing books and reading with them, we are helping create innovative and worthwhile citizens.Readingleads to literacy and literacy leads to hope.

 

About the Author

Zoe Allen is an avid reader and free lance writer. Her favorite books include Neil Gaiman’s “M is for Magic” and Richard Adam’s “Watership Down.” Since Zoe’s also into technology, she often visits Verizon for the latest news. Follow her on Twitter.

 

 

Stressed Spelled Backwards is Desserts!

 

The holiday season can be the most wonderful time of the year, but with shopping, wrapping, holiday card writing, cookie baking, get-together’s, school concerts, tree trimming, neighbor caroling, dinner preparations, light hanging, etc., etc., etc…it can also be the most stressful time of the year.

So, what are we to do about it?

Susan Madsen, a therapist at Desert Therapies in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has some ideas that can help transform your stress into joy – comparable to eating your favorite dessert:)  My favorite dessert, brownies a-la-mode.

First, Susan suggests to make a list and prioritize.  Whittle down that list by accomplishing 1 task at a time.  And then check it off.  Yep.  Actually check it off.  Why?  Because it feels good to make that mark and see your list dwindling before your eyes.

Second, learn to say no.  Just because you get invited to 15 different events doesn’t mean you have to attend every one of them.  If saying no doesn’t come easy, practice in front of the mirror.  And for those things that you just can’t say no to, maybe you can still say yes, but fulfill them on a smaller scale.

Another great mood lifter is to give back.  And what a great time of the year to do that.  Noticing and helping others in need can always make you feel more blessed.

Speaking of blessings… count yours!  If you start to get overwhelmed and nothing seems to be going your way, make a list in your head of everything wonderful in your life.  It helps keep perspective and get over the negative hump.

And last but not least, laugh.  If a smile is hard to come by, try to remember a time in the past that just made you crack-up.  Call up an old friend and reminisce with them about it and then you’ll both be able to ease some stress.

So, do fun things with fun people, relax a little and enjoy the season!

 

 

The Present of Presence

  

 

 

I’m sure that everyone reading this right now has as many different circumstances impacting their life as there are stars in the sky.  But if you ask everyone what the most important thing in their life is, it would be the same…family. 

I’m sure I’m not the only one that would like a stronger, more cohesive family.   

Researchers at Brigham Young University analyzed results from 148 studies over the last century and found that social support (like that found in a strong family) can not only make us happier to be alive, but also literally adds to our longevity, increasing our survival by up to 50%.  

The time that we spend together is what defines a family. 

Right now, I have a captive audience.  My kids are all young and they don’t have anywhere else they would rather be.  The amount of time that I spend with my family is really up to me.  I decide how much time away from home I will spend with work and hobbies, and I also decide the quality of my time at home when I’m there.

Right now, my kids sit at the window, waiting for me to walk in the door after work.  However, not far down the road, my kids will be grown and will move out of “my” house and into their own.  And I will be the one anxiously sitting by the window awaiting their return…especially around the holidays.

I know that the time I spend with them now will dictate how often they will return later.  The fact that they will even want to return and spend time with family will say tons about my relationship with them.

The journey from here to there may seem long and difficult and at many times under-appreciated.  But one day we’ll be able to reap what we sow and our kids will be able to come home to a place that they hold dear in their hearts.

If a healthy, strong family is on your list this holiday season, here are some suggestions:

 

1.  Have dinner together as a family.  There is a growing body of research that shows just how significant this time can be for kids.  It helps them grow not only physically but also emotionally. 

2.  Use the time you already have by catching the time in between moments.  Like driving in the car, walking through the store, or those couple of minutes when you are done getting ready but you still have 5 or 10 more minutes until it’s time to leave.  Use those minutes to talk and catch up on what your child is doing in class or how their friends are doing.

3.  Check-in.  There are normal times of the day when it is easy to give your child a hug and say that you love them.  When they wake-up in the morning, when they get home from school, or right before they go to bed to name a few.  Take a minute at these “check-in” times to let them know that you care.

4.  Make memories.  Do fun things together.  Step out of your usual habits of watching TV, surfing the computer, or gaming and take the whole family out for some fun.

5.  Have routines or traditions.  Whether it’s a book before bed or a family campout every summer, come up with family routines and traditions that will glue your family together.

6.  Make the time.  If you still struggle to find the time to spend with family, put it on the calendar and actually schedule a time for family time.

 

With the hustle and bustle of holiday preparations upon us, it can be hard to balance life.  Remember to take time to just be there and spend quality time with your kids.  The precious present of each others presence is one of the best gifts we can give our family.

 

Speaking to Read

 

 

 

Reading is an important skill that will help your child succeed in school and throughout life.  But how and when do you start teaching your child to read?

Learning to read starts younger than you think.  Very young in fact, because learning to speak is actually the foundation for learning to read.  Children develop important language skills from birth – and early language abilities are directly related to later reading abilities.  The connections in the brain that develop when a child learns to talk are the same connectors that will help them learn to read. 

Did you know… At 4 -5 months old, a child can start to recognize their name.  At 8 months old a child can start to distinguish word patterns.  At 3 years old a child can start to repeat simple rhymes.  At 5 years old, a child can start to match sounds with letters.

So, to begin with, an easy way to help your child learn to read is to help them develop their language skills. 

Here are a few ideas to help build your child’s language proficiency and boost their reading abilities as well.

 

1.  Talk with your child.  Encourage them to answer and ask questions.  Instead of listening to the radio on the way to the store, turn it off and talk to them about their day, their favorites, their friends, etc.

2.  Point out and identify new objects around them.  Let them feel, taste, and smell the objects when appropriate for multiple sensory identification.   

3.  Sing with your child.  Many times a small child can repeat a long line of words in the form of song before they can speak a full sentence.  Sing them your favorite nursery rhymes or lullabies as they fall asleep.

4.  Make up rhymes with your child.  Be silly while teaching them how to rhyme.  They will love it!

5.  Tell them stories.  Ask them questions or make predictions about how the story will end. 

6.  Read them books.  Have them retell the story to you at another time.  Discuss story elements, cause and effect, orders found in the book, main ideas, characters, and details.

7.  If a child is interested in a certain book, read it over and over to them.  Point out words in the book as you read them.

 

Speaking and listening are the building blocks of early literacy.  Children whose parents read to them, tell them stories, talk and sing songs with them – develop larger vocabularies, become better readers, and do better in school.  So speak your way to reading with your child today.

 

7 Habits of Grateful People

 

 

 

Research is continually finding that expressing thanks can lead to a healthier, happier, and less-stressful life.  That sounds good to me, so let see what we can do to become more grateful and improve our overall lives.

Here are 7 habits can help cultivate gratitude on a daily basis.

 

1.  Keep a journal.  It’s no secret that our brain naturally focuses on the negative in life.  Writing in a journal can help reinforce the positive things that happen.  Take a minute everyday to record the things that you are thankful for and how they have affected your life in a positive way.  Chance are, it will be hard at first.  And it may take some time to be able to pick out the good things that happened in your day, but as time goes on, it will become easier and you’ll start to notice the good things more and more throughout the day.

 

2.  Embrace setbacks.  Grateful people can always look back at the hard times in life and see how they have grown because of them.  Learn  from the bad times and accept them as part of the overall journey.  Instead of getting stuck in a rut because of some hard turns, accept it and figure out how to get to higher ground.

 

3.  Keep good company.  Spending time with those you love will strengthen those relationships.  And strong relationships can help you deal with stress.  Surround yourself with positive, upbeat people that can encourage you and try to do the same for them.

 

4.  Use social media positively.  You can criticize social media because it creates a society that is less connected, but if used correctly, it can be a positive boost in your life and the lives of those you love.  Have you ever noticed that positive comments spread faster than negative ones?  Use that theory to someone’s advantage today and post a positive comment.

 

5.  Stop and smell the roses.  Notice the value of the little things in life.  Little acts of kindness, simple compliments, gifting “just because”, and expressing uncomplicated gratitude can all be monumental to someone who’s day could benefit from just a smile.  Don’t take for granted the little things you do, or the little things others do for you.

 

6.  Volunteer.  Volunteering can result in lower feelings of depression and increased overall well-being.  Help some out today and lose yourself in their problems.  Suddenly your life won’t look so bad.

 

7.  Exercise.  You may not think that exercising and gratitude have anything in common, but exercise has been proven to clear the mind and reduce stress, creating a healthier mind and body.  Get moving and become healthier all around.

 

 

Replacing the “Gimmies” with Giving

 

Buying 5 extra turkeys at Thanksgiving and ding-dong-ditching them at different houses.  One year I fell over a curb as we were running away and I scraped my knee.

Singing carols at the retirement home across town.  One old lady held my hand the entire time and cried when we had to leave.

Taking baked goods to neighbors.  I can’t even count the number of plates that were delivered over the years.

Hand making family gifts.  As kids we would rotate who had who, and it became a great quest to see who could come up with the most thoughtful (and cheapest) homemade gift.

Donating one of our own gifts to a homeless shelter.  I remember thinking my sister was crazy.  She donated her prized gift that year, a cabbage patch doll.

Volunteering at a local soup kitchen.  We met Dan, a cherished friend.

“Adopting” a family in need for the holidays.  They had 6 kids.  We bought a new set of clothes and a toy for each of them.  I remember my negative attitude that year.  I was upset because it meant that I would get less.

Leaving a large sum of money on a widow’s door step.  Her husband had died earlier that year.  I remember the amount and have tried to find a widow to give the same amount too every year since I’ve had my own household.

These are a few of my favorite holiday memories.

In contrast, last week we asked our kids for their Christmas Lists.  Their lists were detailed beyond belief and overflowed on both sides of the page.

Sadly, I have to admit, that I haven’t been as good at teaching generosity to my children as my parents were.  I’ve been so eager to make my kids happy and to show them how much I love them, that I lost sight of the lessons I wanted to teach them.

So, how can we instill good values in our children that will influence them not only for the holidays but for the rest of their lives?

Here are a few ideas that I was going to try to implement this year.

Discuss what the holidays mean to everyone.  Talk with them about different ways to be generous and grateful.  Ask them what those words mean to them.  Talk about examples that they have seen of someone being kind.

Set limits ahead of time.  If the real reason for the season is getting lost beneath a pile of presents, discuss how much is enough when it comes to gifts.  Talk about the difference between “want” and “need” and then decide on the number of presents or an amount of money to spend on each child.

Encourage them to give.  Whether it’s a local need or a favorite online charity, help them find a cause that they can contribute to and feel like they’ve made a difference in the world.

Homemade = Made with love.  It really is the thought that counts, especially when the recipient is a close friend or relative.

Help them to be more alert to those in need.  Welcome their input on who they think would benefit from a surprise turkey, or who could use a new pair of shoes.

Model gratitude and generosity.  Being a good example is the best way to teach your children.  Bring them along when you drop off dinner at a sick friends house or take a donation to a local shelter.

 

What are your favorite holiday memories of generosity and being grateful?

 

 

 

 

 

7 Easy Ways to Improve Your Child’s Grades

 

Helping you child put their best foot forward at school is a priority of every parent.  Do you know what book your child is reading in class, or when their science project is due?

Here are a couple pointers to help ensure their success at school.

1.  Be involved.  Talk to your child about their assignments, what’s going on in class, and how things are going with their friends.  Communicate with teachers as well to make sure assignments are getting done and behavior in class is appropriate.  Many schools have grades, attendance, and even behavior logs in the internet now.  Good communication is always the first step toward improvement.

2.  Make a homework spot.  Designate a place in the house for each child where they can do their homework.  It should be free of distractions and noise.  But make sure it’s a place close enough to where you will be so they can ask you for assistance if necessary.

3.  Uplift them.  When it comes to a child’s self-esteem, it takes 10 positive comments to make-up for just one negative one.  So instead of adding to the cruel comments that they may hear at school, give them uplifting, positive comments instead.

4.  Eat healthy.  Make sure everyone starts the day off with breakfast.  If possible, opt for something that is high in protein instead of a sugary, carb-loaded cereal or toaster pastry.  It will help satisfy them for longer and eliminate that mid-morning “blah” feeling.  Offer healthy options for lunch and dinner as well, and drink more water!

5.  Get moving.  Being more active will help not only their bodies but also their minds grow and develop.  It will also give them an opportunity to let off some steam and balance their bodies energy.

6.  Get a good nights sleep.  Recent studies show that most kids ages 2 – 18 need 10 hours of sleep a night.  I know what you’re thinking…impossible!  Right?  With busy schedules, getting just 8 hours is hard enough as it is.  Maybe your goal can be to simply increase it, even if just a little.  Turning off electronic devices earlier in the evening can help kids wind down faster.  Try reading a book as an alternative.

7.  Read a book.  Reading is the key to all learning.  Read to your children often and have them read to you.  Encourage them to always have a book that they are reading on the side.  Take them to the library and attend reading hours or book tours if possible.  You can even swap books with friends.  Use the books that you are reading to come up with places to visit or things to see or learn more about.  Make books fun.

 

 

 

How to Get Kids to Exercise

 

Times have changed.  I remember playing all day in the ditch behind my house with my cousins.  We only showed up at home around lunch and dinner time to scrounge up some food and then we were off to build a fort, or climb a tree, or play hide-and-go-seek until it was too dark to see our way home.

Today, if there was one word that I’d use to describe my kids, it would be “couch-potato”.  My fear is that they aren’t just missing out on the experiences I once had, but they are also missing out on the exercise.

If you are concerned about the activity level of your kids, here are a few tips to keep them more active and more healthy.

 1.  Limit screen time.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time for kids under the age of two, and kids over two years old, should watch no more than two hours a day of quality programming.

2.  Head outside.  Kids are much more likely to get moving when they are outside.  Plan a day at the park or go on a hike together.  You can even use playtime outside as a reward and see if that gets you anywhere.

3.  Get some outside toys.  You can’t play basketball inside.  Consider getting a few active toys for your kids and see where that takes them.

4.  Enroll them in a activity.  It isn’t for everyone, but maybe you could enroll them in an activity.  Try dance, karate, or swimming as well as the team oriented sports.  This will force activity at a specific time each week.

5.  Inspire them.  Kids want to do what their parents are doing.  So the more you are up and active, chances are, the more active they will be as well.  If you don’t feel like getting up for yourself, do it for your kids.

 

 

9 Ideas for a Stress Free Outlook

Although stress is a fact of life for most us, here are a few things you can do to live a longer, happier, healthier, and less stressful life. 

1.  Make time for yourself.  Do more of the things that you enjoy and less of the things that drain your energy.  Read a book or exercise.  Take a stress management class or practice some relaxation techniques.  Take time to take care for yourself and your health.  Make it a priority to relax or even take a nap.

2.  Find some support.  Confide in your spouse or a good friend.  Find a good listener and ask them for help getting through tough times.

3.  Know your limits.  Learn to say no.  Don’t stress yourself out by trying to do more than you can.  Do fewer things and do them better.

4.  Plan ahead.  Plan your day, week, and month ahead of time and be sure to include breaks.  Especially during or after stressful times or events.

5.  Make goals.  Have something that you can work toward.  Make goals that are challenging but realistic.   

6.  Avoid stressful situations.  If you know that a certain situation always gets your blood boiling, try to avoid it.  And if you can’t, decide ahead of time how you are going to handle it.

7.  Express your feelings.  It’s ok to cry when you are sad or upset.  We all have bad days.  But try to laugh a little every day.  If you have a hard time expressing your feelings verbally, try writing them in a journal.

8.  Be positive.  Have you ever heard the quote, “Fake it till you make it!”?  Try it with your outlook on life.  Smile more often.  Laugh and spend time with upbeat people.  Adjust your view of the stress in your life.  Try to see the good in all things.

9.  Be grateful.  Instead of complaining about things that you have no control over, count the many blessing that you do have…and tell them you love them right now.

Saving Energy Means Saving Money

 

 

Did you know that the average U.S. family spends close to $1,300 a year on utilities?  Sadly, (for your pocketbook and for our environment) a big portion of that energy is wasted. 

We’ve all gone through our houses and turned off lights, checked for leaky faucets, and inspected weather stripping.  But here are a few things that you maybe haven’t thought about before that can help you save even more. 

Take advantage of the sun.  Keep draperies and shades open on south facing windows during the heating season to allow sunlight to enter your home and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.

Don’t heat or cool empty space.  Turn down the thermostat or turnoff the heat for unoccupied rooms.

Keep registers, and filters clean.  And make sure they aren’t blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.

Be patient.  Your house won’t warm up or cool down any faster if you crank up the thermostat past your desired temperature.  And it’s easy to forget to turn it down, which wastes more energy.

Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units – but don’t block the airflow.  A unit operating in the shade uses about 10 percent less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.

Lower the thermostat on your water heater.  Water heaters come from the factory with high temperature settings, but a setting of 115 degrees Fahrenheit provides hot enough water for most uses.

Take showers instead of baths.  Bathing uses the most hot water in the average household.  You use 15 to 25 gallons of hot water for a bath, but less than 10 gallons during a 5-minute shower.

Install white window shades, drapes, or blinds to reflect heat away from your house.

Clean your windows to maximize solar heat that can be gained.

Landscaping is a natural and beautiful way to reduce your energy bills.  A well-placed tree, shrub, or vine can provide shade or act as a windbreak and reduce overall energy bills.

Plant trees that lose their leaves in the fall.  When selectively placed around a house, they provide excellent protection from the summer sun but permit winter sunlight to reach and warm your house.

Let your dishes air dry.  If you don’t have an automatic air-dry switch on your dishwasher, prop the door open a little after the final rinse so the dishes will dry faster.

Use a microwave or toaster oven to cook small portions.

Put a lid on your pot.  This reduces cooking time and energy use. 

Place the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water.  Turning on the hot water for even a second uses energy to heat the water even though it never reaches the faucet.

Match the size of the cookware to the heating element.

Dishwashers use less water than washing dishes by hand, about 6 gallons less per load. 

Front loader washing machines use about a third of the energy and less water than a top-loading machine.  They also remove more water from you clothes during the spin cycle which means less energy will be used to dry them.

Use the moisture sensor when drying your clothes.  The sensor automatically shuts off the machine when your clothes are dry.  This not only saves energy, but it will save wear and tear on your clothes caused by over-drying.

 

 

Information taken from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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9 Budgeting Tips to Teach Your Kids

As Parents, our goal is to help our kids grow up to be responsible adults.  The life skills you teach them now will follow them and be the start of their independent lives. 

Money management is a very valuable tool.  Spending and saving habits can be taught at very early ages.  In fact the earlier you start the more they will learn.

Here are 9 money management tips for teaching your kids about the power of a dollar.

 

1.  Be a role model.  Show them your budget.  Take them to the bank with you and explain what you are doing and how it all works.  I would suggest even sharing the “bad” financial decisions you have made with them and pointing out the consequences.  Let them learn from your accomplishments as well as your mistakes.

 

2.  Have them help you.  Take them shopping and have them compare prices.  Ask for their help in fining coupons.  Let them help you plan a day out or a vacation so that they can see how expensive everything is.

 

3.  Pay them.  Whether you give them an allowance or pay them for chores, they can’t learn to budget their money if they don’t have any.  And when the time is right, encourage them to get a part time job.

 

4.  Bank it.  Whether it’s a piggy bank or a glass jar on their dresser, give them something to keep their money in.  Help older kids set up a savings account at the bank when appropriate.

 

5.  Play with money.  Read books about finance and even play money games.  Monopoly is a great one.

 

6. Make goals.  Help them set up short and long term goals for their money.  Remember it is their money and you can make suggestions, but in the long run, it is their decision.

 

7.  Make a budget.  Help them set up a budget with their money.  A good starting point?  I would suggest 10% goes to church or charity.  20% goes to savings.  30% goes to bigger items that you need to save for and 40% can be spent immediately. 

 

8.  Don’t bail them out.  When things get tough, don’t bail them out.  Let them learn from the natural consequences of how money works and why a budget is important.

 

9.  Keep track.  If they keep a journal or ledger it will help them see where their money is going and help them keep track of where it will go in the future.

 

 

 

Speed Cleaning Tips From the Pro’s

 

Wouldn’t you like to be able to clean your house in half the time or less?

Let’s ask the pro’s how they do it.

One cleaning company can send a team of three into a four bedroom house and have the entire home clean in under 45 minutes.  WOW!

We asked someone who has been cleaning houses for 25 years, Jeremy Pitowski, owner of Clean In A Jiffy, what his secrets were for cleaning a house…fast.

Here are some if his tried-and-true rules.

 

1.  Only pass over once.  Carry all your tools and supplies with you, or have them within reach, so that you can work your way around the room – once.  No backtracking.  Except for vacuuming or mopping, clean around the room, in one direction, everything in your path, and cut out repeated unnecessary steps in the process.  This one change in your cleaning habits can cut your time by up to 30%.  Hint:  Keep a small bag for garbage with you as well, that way little debris can be quickly eliminated instead of walking back and forth to the garbage can in the kitchen.

 

2.  Clean from top to bottom.  The premise here…gravity.  Example, Clean the counters before you mop the floor.  Or, as you wipe, crumbs will fall off the counter onto your newly cleaned floor.  Hence, you’ll have to clean the floor twice.

 

3.  Use the right tools and cleaners.  Yes, just like any other job, housecleaning has it’s own set of tools.  (Not your fingernails!)  And using the right tools is imperative to getting the job done right and fast.

 

4.  If what you are doing isn’t working, switch to a heavier duty cleaner or tool.  Instead of using more muscle and time to work a stain out of the carpet, up your game with a stronger cleaning solution and see results faster and with less sweat.

 

5.  If it isn’t dirty, don’t clean it.  Instead of wiping the entire surface of the fridge, quickly wipe away the smudges and finger prints and then move on.  Don’t waste time by wiping the entire surface.

 

6.  Pay attention.  Be mindful of what you are doing.  Keep track of your time and try to get faster.  Notice unnecessary steps and eliminate them.  Stay on task.  Work smarter – not harder.

 

7.  Use both hands.  It does sound kind of silly, but the examples are endless.  Spray with one hand while the other wipes, clean with one hand while the other stabilizes an object, scrub with one hand and wipe-up with the other.  Double the work in the same amount of time.

 

Maybe you can adapt a few of these rules into your cleaning routine and discover on your own how they can bring you more satisfaction as you streamline and become more efficient at your daily chores.

 

You may be interested in reading this related article as well.  Cleaning From Top to Bottom and Other Cleaning Tips

 

 

Add Time to Your Day by Improving This

 

Time is a precious commodity.  The reasons why we never seem to have enough time vary per individual.

A big time waster… television.  According to USA Media, the typical American spends more than 30 hours a week, (that’s more than a full day!) sitting in front of the TV.

Another culprit, your memory.

Yep.  Forgetting something and having to fix or re-do it later can become a big time waster.

For example, you get home from the store and realize that you forgot the eggs for breakfast tomorrow.  Now you’ll have to spend more time going back to the store, or else scrounge for a replacement for breakfast.  All to make up for your forgetfulness.

Or, maybe you forgot a deadline at work.  Now you’ll have to take time rescheduling and rearranging your schedule to accommodate for the rush job you’ll have to do now.  Not to mention the inferior work you’ll do in your haste.

Another example.  You left the house to run errands but forgot the movies or the library book that needed to be returned on the way.  Now you’ll have to make a second trip because you forgot.

As you can see, improving your memory can actually, add minutes and maybe even hours to your day.  Here are some ideas to help improve your memory.

 

1.  Pay attention.  It’s almost impossible to remember something if you are distracted.  Try to be more alert and conscious of others and your surroundings.  When you are having a conversation, turn off the TV or radio and give your full attention.  Notice land marks while driving.   Sleep well the night before a long meeting or class.

2.  Write it down.  “Writing something down is the best way to remember it,” says Doug Alexander, a Boston-area psychologist.  Try keeping a notebook or something similar, where you can not only write down things to remember but have them organized by category – such as “to-do lists,” phone messages” or “directions”.  The process of writing and categorizing information can reinforce your ability to retain it.

3.  Repeat it.  Repetition is an easy way of helping information sink in.  When you meet someone new, use their name several times during the conversation to help you remember it.  “Rehearse” directions, grocery lists, or test answers a few times so you don’t forget.

4.  Put it in the same place.  Make a habit of putting your keys in the bowl by the front door.  Put all the screwdrivers in one place; all the bills, somewhere else, etc.

5.  Make notes to yourself.  Attach sticky note to the pone, front door, or bathroom mirror, such as “Call Mom to wish her a Happy Birthday.”   These can be used like an external memory or an extension of your memory – a way to remember without having to actually remember.

6.  Take a deep breath.  When you are stressed, hormones are released that can negatively affect your memory.  Relaxing can reduce these hormones and help you remember things better.  “If you slow your breathing, your heart rate slows, invoking a relaxation response,” says Stanford university insomnia expert, Madsen Palmer.

 

 

Living a More Simple Life

 

There’s a recent trend to live simpler and easier lives.

A little curious about how others do it, I did a little research on my own and ran across several stories.  One was about a woman that only possessed 1 pair of jeans and 2 shirts.  Another woman was in the process of making changes in her families places of work, school, and markets in an attempt to get rid of their only car.  And have you ever heard about having a buy-nothing Christmas?  There’s a thought, or should I say, a rebellion?

Dave Bruno, author and advocate for simple living has an idea as well.  It’s called “The 100 Thing Challenge”.

Bruno wanted to live a simpler, more meaningful life.  His solution was to narrow his personal belonging down to, yep, you guessed it, just 100 things.

What followed was a worldwide movement of people taking on the challenge to pick out just 100 things to live with – and give the rest of their possessions away.

Bruno says it wasn’t about the numbers though.  It was about becoming a person that could shake off the constraints of consumerism.  A person that was free to follow a satisfied life.

Comments showed that people believed that the challenge made them live more fully… giving them more time and space to do the things that were most important to them.  And that the challenge was inspirational and helped them improve their lives.

I have to be honest.  I don’t know if I’m up for “The 100 Thing Challenge”, but I am all about figuring out how to simplify life.

I’m convinced that we do not need stuff to be happy.  And although I’m not quite ready to reduce to the extreme that Bruno did, I’m looking forward to reducing to an extent.

If for no other reason than to change my attitude toward “stuff”.

How do you feel about simplifying your life and to what extreme are you willing to go?

 

 

Stop the Morning Madness

 

Do you find yourself scrambling every morning and in the end yelling as your kids head out the door?  Here are a few suggestions that will make your morning smoother…and happier.

 

Get up earlier.  Be sure to plan for plenty of time in the morning and maybe even a couple extra minutes for that inevitable, “Mom, I lost my homework”, scenario.  Set your alarm clock with time to spare.  And if you’re one of those that loves the snooze button, try placing your alarm clock across the room so you are physically forced to get out of bed to turn it off.

 

Get ready before the kids.  We all love our “Z’s”, but according to Mary Belche, Ph.D., a clinical child psychologist in Cincinnati, “Children love their parents attention and a great time to give them that is in the morning.  If parents don’t slip out of bed until their kids are gone to school, they are missing some valuable time with them.”  Try rising before the kids and get ready yourself.  Then when the kids wake up, you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way.

 

Have a schedule.  If your kids wake up in plenty of time, but drag their feet and aren’t able to fit everything they need to do into the allotted time, try coming up with a schedule with them.  Do things in order of priority and set appropriate times for each task to be done by.  You can even make it into a game.  Use a stopwatch and create a chart to keep track of their times.  Try to beat their time the next day.

 

Prepare the night before.  Not everything has to be done in the morning.  What can be done the night before to alleviate some stress?  Daily baths, homework, lunches, setting out clothes, and getting backpacks ready are all thing that can be done ahead of time and leave time in the morning for things like a healthy breakfast.

 

Go to bed on time.  Waking up in the morning is always easier to do when you’re not tired.

 

Have a positive attitude.  Be happy.  If problems arise, deal with them calmly instead of sending the house into a frenzy.  Be an example to your kids of appropriate behavior and send them out the door ready for a great day.

 

 

 

Things to Avoid When It Comes to Chores

Do your kids face chores kicking and screaming?  Never fear!  There are ways to make chores, well, less of a chore.

 

Don’t delay.  Kids are never too young to start learning the benefits of chores.   And they are probably more capable than you think.  Sometimes we hold back because we think they need to be ready first.  Well, they have to start somewhere and kids learn by doing.  Make sure that their assigned chores are age appropriate and start today.

 

Don’t be inconsistent.  If your kids aren’t expected to follow through on their chores regularly then they’ll never get them done.  They will just expect some else to do them for them.  Instead, set timelines and consequences and follow through yourself.  In the beginning they will test the waters to see what they can get away with.  But stick with it and soon it will become easier for all involved.

 

Don’t require perfection.  No one is perfect and one aspect of doing chores is to learn.  Relax a little and use this as bonding time.  And, no matter how strong the urge is to step in and do it for them…resist it!  Doing (or redoing) their chores undermines the whole point.

 

Don’t hold back praise.  You don’t have to wait for them to finish their chores to tell them “good job”.  Be your child’s cheerleader from the start.  Shower them with praise and encouragement all along the way.  Build a positive connection between praise and chores.  And if you have one of those kids that thrives on praise, but you find it hard to find something to praise them for, when you do find something, use it over and over.  Tell them all day what a great job they did making their bed.  Tell Dad (in front of them) what a great job they did making their bed when he gets home.  You can even bring it up again weeks later.  Praise what you can, over and over.

 

And when you feel alone in your quest to have peace and a clean house, remember that you’re not alone.  There are so many of us out there that are having the same challenges you are.  Our goal is to raise responsible, capable children and that happens one chore at a time.

Generous Giving

 

This morning, I paid $76.54 for an unknown woman’s groceries.  She didn’t have enough money at the register so I told her I’d take care of the whole thing for her.

I don’t tell you this so you’ll pat me on the back and think that I’m some spectacular generous person.

Rather, I feel anything but, because of the things that led up to it.

About a month ago, I was watching a you-tube video about a man that donated a kidney to his wife’s friend.  Wow!  I can understand donating a kidney to your wife, or one of your kids, but I sat there in awe, thinking how I would never consider giving my wife’s friend a kidney.   Shameful, I know.

Then I had a plane trip.  My seat was upgraded to first class because of frequent flyer miles.   I stood in line waiting to be boarded, with my hectic schedule flying through my mind.  A soldier stood a couple yards in front of me.   Then I heard the woman between us ask him where his seat was.   He told her middle back,  and then commented about how fun it was going to be on such a full plane.   She quickly traded him seats, giving him her first class seat.   Callous, right?

The next week, my 9 year old daughter was invited to a birthday party.  On the invitation, the little girl asked that instead of a present, that a donation be made to be given to a small city in Mexico that needed a well for clean water.   The thought never even crossed my mind.  Terrible.

And just the other day, I was having dinner at a restaurant and saw two missionaries there.  I didn’t know their religion.  Then I saw an elderly couple walk up to them and pay for their dinner.  Humbled by degrees.

So, this morning, when I was standing in line at the grocery store, and the woman in front of me pulled out several different cards, trying to pay for her formula and baby diapers, I jumped at the opportunity to reclaim my dignity.  I didn’t offer to just pay for what she lacked, I paid for her entire cart full and then just smiled as she thanked me profusely.

I have been mulling these experiences over in my mind and I wanted to share with you the main lessons that I think I learned through this.

1.  I need to be open and alert to others needs.  Half of helping is recognizing that there is a need.

2.  I need to be more creative in my giving.  It isn’t always about money.

3.  I need to be more generous, even when it’s not convenient.  Especially when it’s not convenient.

4.  I need to be quick to give, ready in an instant to be kind.  If not, the opportunity may just pass me by.

Tim Keller says, “Living is giving.  We live life best when we give ourselves, our resources, our competencies, and our time in service to others…  If you spend your money on yourself, you are just surviving.  But if you want your life to count, if you really want to live – give.”

Ron Anderson says, “We thought that financial freedom came from accumulating as much as we could and if we gave more away, we would have less to enjoy.  In reality, the more we gave, the more we enjoyed and the more freedom we experienced.”

Lynne Payne says, “I have discovered an excitement in giving that’s unique and distinct from every other gift.  It’s ironic that in separating myself from something of value, I receive back something of even greater value.  It’s a great way to do life.”

I encourage us all (myself included) to give generously and live generously.

And next time when a body part is needed, or a courtesy is granted, or help is offered, or relief is given, I hope it’s me that’s doing the giving, instead of the watching.

 

 

8 Tips for Back to School

 

Back to school means changes for everyone in the family.  Use these tips to ease the transition from laid back summer days to crazy school routines.

1.  Make a back to school budget.  It’s never too early to teach your children money skills.  Start with a budget and decide how much  money will be spent on new school clothes, backpacks, and school supplies.  With a budget your children may have to prioritize.  What’s more important: new jeans or a new back pack?  Frugality is a virtue that has to be learned.

2.  Clear out the closet.  Before you bring home new school outfits, go through everyone’s closet and get rid of any clothes or shoes that don’t fit anymore or that they don’t wear (or like).  Donate them to charity.  Not only will this make more room for the new stuff but it will help with the clutter as well.

3.  Create a homework space.  Everyone needs a quiet place for homework where they can concentrate and be productive.  Have your child find their spot and then make sure everyone knows about it so they can respect their privacy.

4.  Set ground rules for the TV, internet, and cell phones.  Invite your kids (text them if necessary :) ) to a family meeting where new rules can be introduced.  You can even include snacks and games to help lighten the mood.  It doesn’t have to be a fight.  Have a grown-up discussion where everyone can communicate openly and come to an agreement that is fair for everyone.

5.  Brainstorm lunch ideas together.  How many times do you put in carrot sticks, only to find them still in their lunch box after school?  Nutrition is paramount but you’ll have a better chance of your children eating what’s in their lunch box if they have a say about it.  Discuss options and find some common ground for everyone’s benefit.

6.  Get your calendar ready.  Put on your cape and mask Super Mom.  It’s time to show that crazy calendar who’s boss.  To keep things more organized try using a different color to designate each member of the family and their calendar items.

7.  Figure out your morning routine.  Sending the kids out the door in a screaming, yelling fight isn’t the way anyone wants to start their day.  A week before school starts decide what activities need to be done in the morning and what can be done the night before.  Come up with a good wake-up time that leaves plenty of time to get ready as well as the occasional what-if’s and then you’ll be able to leisurely get ready and send them out the door with a hug and kiss instead.

8.  Take advantage of meet the teacher night.  School can be a scary place.  When you meet the teacher ease their fears by taking a tour of the school as well.  Be sure to point out key locations such as the bus stop, the cafeteria, and playground.  Less unknown means less stress.

 

 

 

Organizational Apps

 

Are you having problems keeping things straight now that school has started?

Here are some apps we would recommend that can help everyone have access to the same schedules, get the same reminders, and share the same information.  Just what you need to keep everyone in line and on the same page.

Cozi is a free app and website that helps you manage the chaos of family life.  It is a popular online family calendar app that also offers shopping lists, meal planners, and to-do lists.  It can help you keep track of everything from school schedules to sports activites, grocery lists, and meals.  It’s all in one place – accessible by every member of the family – from any computer or mobile device. 

Throw out the endless lists on every wall and in every corner of the house, because with Priorities you’ll never dread your to-do list again.   Priorities can make it easy to organize your to-do lists for long and short-term tasks.  Add alerts, due dates, due times, and notes on any page.  You can also synch to backup or share with family, friends, or coworkers.   

We are all about chores over here and you guessed it, MyJobChart.com has a free app as well.  It couldn’t be easier for parents to assign chores to their kids and manage rewards wherever you are.  Sitting on the couch or in the office, getting your household in order is right at your fingertips.  You can also see at-a-glance what’s been done around the house by someone other than you! Yes, I’m liking this already. 

Evernote is especially helpful for saving online information, sharing notes, and planning trips.  Save your ideas, things you like, things you hear, and things you see.  And don’t worry about loosing anything, because you can search by keyword, tag, or even printed and handwritten text inside images. 

ScannerPro turns your mobile device into a portable scanner, allowing you to scan receipts, pictures, permission slips, itineraries, or other documents and then email, upload, and even save the scan to use later.

 Juggling all the activities of a busy family can be as challenging as managing the information flow.  We want to know what works for you.  What are your favorite organizational apps? 

 

 

 

 

Is Your Family Green?

  

We all want to protect our environment.  Every day people affect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we live on.  How do we affect it?  By our choices.  Our choices determine how much trash and pollution we make.

What can we do to make sure that the world we live in stays beautiful?  A whole lot, actually.

1.  Reduce – Try to reduce the amount of resources that you use and throw away.  Take shorter showers, turn off the lights, and unplug items when not in use.  A big resource that we can try to safe more of, gasoline.  Try driving less.  Ride your bike or walk to the corner store or to school.

2.  Reuse – I’m sure you’ve heard the term “throwaway society”.  We are generally too fast to throw something away and buy something new to replace it.  Instead we can reuse grocery bags, donate unwanted items so others can benefit from them, use both sides of the paper etc.  Reusing items just makes sense.  It means one less thing that needs to be produced, packaged, and shipped to the store.  It also means less for you to buy at the store.  Did you know that during 2006, the city of San Francisco spent $500,000 on pre-packaged water bottles?  Crazy!  Lets all do our part by reusing our resources instead of throwing them away.

3.  Recycle – Recycling has never been easier.  Today, most of us can sit back in our lazy chairs while a truck picks up our recycling in front of our house.  By recycling bottles, cans, boxes, and more, you’re reducing the amount of trash that goes into a landfill.  Recycled goods go to a center where they can be broken down and later used for new bottles, cans, and paper.  Did you know that even water can be recycled?  Some communities take used water and clean it until it is safe and can be used for things like  watering lawns.

4.  Now Enjoy It! – The earth is a beautiful place.  Go out into nature and enjoy it!  Climb a mountain, watch the sunset, or just stop to smell the flowers on the side of the road.  The other day I came to a screeching halt on the side of the road.  The kids all asked me what was wrong.  I jumped out and told them to follow.  They thought I was crazy as we watched a centipede cross the road.  Don’t think you have to go far either.  Before you travel for hours to see different sights, take a look in your own backyard.  While you’re at it, plant a tree or a garden and enjoy yourself.

I’m sure if you examine your days, you’ll be able to notice several areas where you can be more diligent about being green.  Remember, even a little can help tons. 

 

 

Need Some Motivation?

 

Whether it’s the hall closet that needs organized or the exercise routine you’d like to start, sometimes we all need a little motivation.

It’s happened to all of us.  Somewhere along the way of getting our goals accomplished we get tired, or distracted, or busy with other things. 

It’s not that we lack the desire, just the motivation.  What you need are some motivation tools to pull you through the tough spots. Try some of these suggestions on for starters.

 

Give yourself a pep-talk.   Five year old soccer coaches (among others) have learned that to get something out of a team of difficult kids, sometimes it helps to yell encouraging remarks.  Try it with yourself.  O.K.  maybe not yell, but try crowding out any negative thoughts by pumping yourself up with happy, supportive self-talk along the way.

 

Write down your goals.  Before you get overwhelmed with what you’ve gotten yourself into, write down your end goal and then share it with a friend.  They’ll help hold you accountable.

 

Use a visual reminder.  Take a before picture of what you’d like to change and post it by your written goals.  Look back often to see how far you’ve already come.  And when you’re done, take another picture and post it as well so you can bask in the satisfaction of a job well done.

 

Reward yourself.  At various milestones along the way, reward yourself with an activity or treat.  Just be sure that your treat doesn’t go against your bigger goal.  Example:  You decide to go out for ice cream because you just lost 10 pounds.

 

Have a buddy.  Misery loves company…can you think of anyone that would like to join in on your misery?  Working together may actually make the job go smoother and faster and make it more enjoyable.  You’ll have someone to bounce ideas off of and can offer an objective point of view if necessary.  A friend can also keep you focused and hold you accountable.

 

Well, whatever it is that you have on your list of goals, let me be the first to offer a word of encouragement.  Good luck and stay motivated until the end!

 

NFL Superstar – Steve Young supports MyJobChart.com to boost kids potential

Steve Young is no stranger to reaching ones potential. He was a quarterback in the NFL for 14 seasons, named MVP (most valuable player) of the NFL in 1992 and 1994 and also the MVP of Super Bowl XXIX, is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At the time of his retirement, he had the highest passer rating among NFL quarterbacks who have thrown at least 1,500 passing attempts, just to name a few of his professional athletic accomplishments.

Mr. Young is a Managing Partner and Co-founder of HGGC a leading middle market private equity investment firm.  Prior to his inception of HGGC, Mr. Young was a co-founder and Managing Director of Sorenson Capital, a private equity fund which focused on middle market leveraged buyouts in the Western United States. Previously, Mr. Young was a member in Northgate Capital, LLC, the general partner of Northgate Capital Partners, L.P., a fund of funds.

Since his retirement from the NFL he has been actively helping others reach their potential. Founded in 1993 The Forever Young Foundation is a non-profit organization that serves children facing significant physical, emotional, and financial challenges and provides academic, athletic, and therapeutic opportunities currently unavailable to these children.

The Forever Young Foundation primarily focuses their efforts in Northern California, Arizona, Utah, and Ghana, Africa. Their development projects include Forever Young Zones, which provide technology and multimedia labs for those living in underserved communities as well as state-of-the-art interactive play areas in children’s hospitals. They have also partnered with the National Football League in their nationwide development of Youth Education Town Centers (YET Centers) in each Super Bowl city. Our international initiatives include the building and expansion of schools in Ghana, Africa, as well as enhancing health, educational, and athletic opportunities for Ghanaian youth.

We at MyJobChart.com are proud to be partnering with Steve Young and his remarkable foundation to help kids reach their full potential as they learn early in life the importance of establishing a positive work ethic.

This wonderful organization is now available in our system as a charity that you can have your children “share” with.

How to Create a Chore Chart that Everyone Loves

 

Chores can help teach your kids responsibility and help them grow up to be conscientious and dependable adults.  By creating a job chart, a chore chart, or I’ve even heard them called a responsibility chart, children will know what they are responsible for, and be able to help out around the house in a more orderly fashion.  That means less stress on parents and kids.

Here are some tips on creating a chore chart that everyone can live with and maybe even love.

 

1.  Identify what chores need to be done.  Make a list and be sure to ask the kids and your spouse what chores they think are important.  Involving them as much as possible gives them a sense of ownership and it can improve their willingness and enthusiasm for finishing their jobs.

 

2.  Ask each child what chores they would like to do.  Of course it’s not a perfect world and you probably aren’t going to be able to hand out chores to each child that they love, but if they would prefer to take out the recycle instead of the trash, we can always try to be accommodating.  Remember to assign age appropriate chores.

 

Read this related article:   Ideas For Kids Chores

 

3.  Decide how often the chores need to be done.  A bed has to be made everyday but the living room may only need to be dusted every other week.

 

4.  Give each chore a deadline of when it needs to be completed by.  Some ideas for deadlines may be before leaving for school, before dinner, or before playing with friends.

 

5.  Assign a reward for each chore.  Rewards may include money, items, privileges, or any other benefit you can think of.

 

6.  Log into MyJobChart.com and use what you came up with above to set up your child’s online chore chart.  You’ve already done the hard part, figuring out the chores, deadlines and rewards.  Entering it online is the easy part. 

 

7.  Here’s an idea.  Set an example by including yourself on the job chart and doing your chores alongside your children.

 

It may be easier to just do the chores yourself, but think about the long term benefits and the lessons you are teaching your children by including them in the household chores.  By making chores a family ordeal and giving your kids a voice in the process, it may not solve all your problems but it should certainly help with the chores.

 

 

Does Personality Determine Success?

  

Chances are, every person in your family has a different temperament and personality.  Is achievement linked to personality?  And can negative personality traits automatically set your children up for failure? 

First lets look at several different characteristics of personalities.  Steven Pinker, who writes about mental capacity and personalities, says that personalities differ in at least five major ways:

 

1.  Sociable (extroverted) or Retiring (introverted)

2.  Constantly Worried (neurotic) or Calm and Self-satisfied (stable)

3.  Courteous and Trusting (agreeable) or Rude and Suspicious (antagonistic)

4.  Careful (conscientious) or Carless (undirected)

5.  Daring (open) or Conforming (non-open)

 

You can probably look at the above personalities and claim several of them for yourself and pin several more on your children.  

Moderation may be the key when it comes to having a “likeable” personality.   I can think of several people that I’ve known over the years that have extreme mannerisms and it always seems harder to get along with them.

Maybe it’s not so much about which personality your child has that makes them hard to get along with, as it is more about if they are willing or able to conform and be flexible when necessary.

Stephen Pinker, believes that achievement is not dependent upon personality.  He believes that it is possible for your children to change or moderate the tendencies that they were born with and adapt them to achieve success.  As parent’s, it’s our job to help them with this obstacle.

To do this you must concentrate on what they can do instead of their limitations.  I once read this statement by a wise person:  “Remember, your only handicap is your opinion of yourself.  If you think you are weak or stupid or maimed or downtrodden, you are.” 

If you want your children to exceed your expectations, then encourage them to do their best no matter what personality they have.  They may just surprise you and become the best.

 

 

Divide and Conquer – Ask the Kids for Help and Get More Done

 

Is your “to do” list spilling over onto several pages?  Do you have too much to do and not enough time to do it?

Why not employ the forces and start checking off those tasks, one by one.

Jim Fay, co-founder of the Love and Logic website, and  parenting expert says, “We all need to feel needed and to know that we’re making a contribution – even kids.  But they can’t feel that way if they don’t have chores and make contributions to the family.”

Do you hesitate to ask the kids for help because the tasks on your list are too hard?  Why not give them a chance?  Your child can probably do more than you think.  And if the job is more than they can handle alone, ask another sibling to help them out or you can work along side them.

Then you’ll be sure that the job is done right, you get to spend some quality time together, and the job still gets done.

What could be better?

Have you asked them for help but you’re not getting the response you would like?  Instead of dictating how and what should be done, how about giving them some say in what they do?  Maybe you can show them the list and let them pick out what they would prefer to help with.

Maybe a special reward can be received after a hard day of helping Mom or Dad.  After all, they did go above and beyond their normal chores and helped you knock off a couple things from your list!

If all else fails, maybe you could pull out the guilt trip card :)  Explain how most of your day goes toward helping them, ie. making their lunch, washing their clothes, helping them with homework – now you need a little help.

Teaching our kids to serve others can start right in the home by teaching them how to serve or help Mom and Dad.

 

Learn more by reading this related article:  Your Children Crave Responsibility – Give It To Them

 

 

 

Show the Love to Stop Sibling Rivalry


Sibling rivalry is normal in families with multiple children.  But are you tired of being the referee for all of their fights?

Children compete with each other for multiple things, and a parents attention and approval is no different.  In fact, this is totally normal.  Even as adults this can still happen.

Your job as a parent is to model good behavior and give each child positive attention.

Here are some ways you can cut down on the sibling rivalry in your home.

1.  Encourage better problem solving skills.  Instead of deciding who is right and who is wrong, when a conflict comes up, concentrate on getting along.  If someone tattles, encourage them to go back and solve the problem.  Help them develop skills of compromise, fairness, and taking turns.  Maybe you can institute house rules for what to do in certain situations.  For example, a timer can be set when the need arises to take turns.

 

2.  Don’t label your kids.  Beware of labeling your kids “good kid” or “bad kid”.  No child is all good or all bad.  This will lead to attacks out of jealousy.  It is likely that when a conflict occurs, everyone involved shares some responsibility.  A danger in labeling a child as the “bad kid” is that they will give up trying to do anything right because they always get in trouble anyway.

 

3.  Make everyone accountable for their own actions.  Sometimes you may wonder if the “bad child” is teaching a younger sibling how to misbehave.  You may blame and even discipline the “bad kid” for the behavior of a younger sibling.  Teach everyone that they are all responsible for their own actions.

 

4.  Role model good problem solving.  As parents, be an example of how to resolve problems and disagreements in respectful and non-aggressive ways.  In your dealings with other adults and in your dealings with your kids always find a way to solve the problem peaceably.

 

5.  Give each child positive attention.  Treat each child as a wonderful individual.  Reduce the competition between siblings by treating each of them as a unique individual and giving each of them positive attention and affection.  Maybe a monthly “date” between each child and each parent would be a good time to accomplish this.

 

Remember, the best way to combat sibling rivalry is to tell each of your children that you love and value them.  Tell them that they are special to you and be specific about what qualities you love about them.

 

Read this related article.  Tips on Teaching Your Kids to Be Nice

 

 

 

Stopping the Boomerang Effect: Teach Kids About Work and Money or They’ll Keep Coming Back

 

Live with Bill Handle, LA’s #1 Drive Time Radio Host:  Kids and Money – Part 1 in a 5 part series with Gregg Murset, CFP

Gregg Murset, founder of MyJobChart.com, says, “It all boils down to the fundamentals.  You either teach your children to be financially responsible when they are 7 or you teach them when they are 27 and have come back to freeload off of you.”

A stunning 39% of adults ages 18-34 come back to live with their parents.

Even Bill Handle,  LA’s #1 drive time radio host,  admits to moving back in with his parents at the age of 34.

Are these kids home for a quick respite after a lost job or are they home to eat their parents food, use their car, and selfishly delay their parents retirement?

Click here to listen to this interview and hear more.

 

 

 

The Tooth Fairy & The Dilemma


My daughter has always believed in the tooth fairy. I have always let her. The magic, excitement and fantasy of having a personal-fairy who leaves gifts has always been an irresistible draw, far surpassing the need to insert a sense of reality into her mind. And then, one day, the tables turned on me when I had my own personal fairy visit.

I still remember when, one morning, my daughter woke me from sleep with great excitement. “The fairy has left you an amazing present,” she whispered. “See what the tooth fairy left you!” I reached under the pillow and found a one dollar note, torn down the middle in exactly half. “Look! The fairy left half a dollar for you, and the other half is under daddy’s pillow.”

I was speechless. I found myself in a dilemma! On the one had she was inviting me to share in the same world of fantasy and magic that I had encouraged her to believe in. Yet, on the other hand, the voice within me wanted to shout, “money doesn’t grow on trees!”

I realized that this was a moment in which how I responded could make or break my child’s spirit. Thankfully, better sense prevailed and I chose to shelve the lesson and tell her how proud I was of that wonderful tooth fairy was so generous to share her dollar with us. My daughter’s eyes responded with a sparkle bright enough the illumine the room.

I tell this story to demonstrate how children, especially our young ones, live entirely from the heart. They are all about feelings. Unlike parents, children do not live in the mental world of intellectualization, organization, planning, or judgment. They just are. Pure being.

As parents who live in the practical world of endless doing – schedules, chores, lists and calendars – we are often at odds with our children. Teaching them to live in the world of adult rules, protocol and time tables is a challenge all of us face. A parent once shared exasperatedly, “a walk in the park takes over an hour because my daughter likes to stop and smell every flower! We are always late for school!” This exasperation is true for many parents caught in the maelstrom of getting their kids to accomplish certain goals while yet, attempting to hold onto a certain childlike sense of exploration and wonder.

Our children live in a world of endless imagination and fantasy. Unfortunately, the world doesn’t allow for their enviable capacity to dream, play and wander.

So how do we bridge this gap? How do we allow our children to hold onto their heart and magical worlds but still move to a practical beat? How do we balance the being versus the doing? Dancing this fine line between the mundane and the magical is at the heart of conscious parenting.

Young children who have not yet developed the capacity for internal regulation need our help. They need encouragement and positive reinforcement. During these years, it is the parent’s job to introduce as much fun, spontaneity, creativity and magic into the practical tasks of brushing teeth, washing faces, making beds, and doing their ABC’s. The more attuned the parent is with their child’s inner fantasies, the more successful will they be in helping their young children create a bridge between their worlds and ours.

As children grow older, they can learn to schedule their own time, mastering the valuable skills of time management and efficiency. Parents can find unique ways to reward them for these growing capacities, always remembering that the best rewards are those that are created and worked towards by the child themselves.

Children learn best when they see the fruits of their labor on their own accord. Experience is the best teacher. It is our job as their parents to provide them as many opportunities to experience self-sufficiency and self-worth. When we allow them chances to contribute toward the household in a positive manner, this immediately helps raise their sense of self, and belonging in the home. Children long to succeed; it is the onus of us parents to allow them safe avenues to witness their accomplishments. Children who feel purposeful and self-directed mature into resilient, competent and empowered adults.

Dr. Shefali Tsabary is a clinical psychologist who received her doctorate from Columbia University. As she was exposed to Eastern teachings at an early age, her specialty is in the integration of this Eastern philosophy and Western psychology. It is this blend of East and West that allows her to reach a global audience, and establishes her as one of a kind in the eld of mindfulness psychology. Dr. Shefali is the author of the award-winning Book, The Conscious Parent.

Prefaced by the Dalai Lama, this book revolutionizes the parenting paradigm.

Milestone: 16 Million Chores Completed


As the fastest growing website teaching kids about work and money we are excited to announce that we have achieved another very meaningful milestone.

Now, over 16,000,000 (yeah, you read that right… million) chores have been completed by kids using our system. Holy cow, that’s a lot of work getting done by young people!

Jennifer a Mom from Semi Valley, CA had this to say, “This program has been wonderful! My husband heard Radio Host Bill Handel talking about it and we signed up right away. Since then, I havent had to nag my two girls about doing their daily jobs. I love it!”

Teaching kids work ethic is one of our prime tenants and we are glad that so many people are using our free online tool to help teach this valuable life skill to their kids.

Here are a couple of tips when assigning chores to your kids:

1. Make them age appropriate. Consider the age of your child and then assign a job around the house that makes sense for them to accomplish. Of course, as they get older change it up so that they are constantly learning new skills and further developing their work ethic.

2. Be consistent. Just because it’s summertime now make sure you keep things structured. If your kids get out of the routine of helping and doing their chores it will make it much harder to get back in the swing of things when school starts again.

Keep up the good work!

Seven Tips to a More Productive Summer

Have the lazy summer months drained you of your productivity?  Do you long for the routine of school days just so you can get something done?

We all hate to waste time.  But between you and me, sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a better way.  The clock keeps ticking and nothing seems to get accomplished.

Here are 7 tips to help you squeeze the most out of every minute.

 

1.  Get Up Early.  Those who get up early tend to be more productive.  They have a more productive mind-set and they have a couple of “quiet” hours to get more done.

 

2.  Think Productive – Be Productive.  Keep your goals at the forefront of your thoughts throughout the day.  Repeatedly ask yourself if what you are doing is productive or wasting your time.  If what you are doing isn’t in line with your goals, then change your course of action.

 

3.  Analyze Your Day.  Take a look at your day and figure out what is wasting your time or distracting you from getting things done.  Maybe it’s procrastination, a bad habit, or a backward strategy.  Figuring it out can be the hard part, but once you do, try to fix it.  For example, if you can’t get anything done because the phone keeps ringing all day, let it go to voice mail so you can finish what you are doing and then set aside a time to return all of those calls.

 

4.  Get Organized.  “Un-organization” can drain the productivity out of your day.  Time spent searching for lost items could be better spent.  Being organized will not only free you of searching time, but it can also free your mind of clutter and calm your soul.

 

5.  Avoid Multi-Tasking.  Do one thing at a time and get it done, rather than shifting from one thing to another and not getting anything accomplished.  In most cases multi-tasking will amount to getting less done.  If the job you are doing will take more time than you have, set a time limit for the day and return to it the next day.

 

6.  Schedule Personal Time.  We all need to charge our batteries every now and then.  If you find that once your day gets started there’s no time to sit back and remind yourself of the big picture, then schedule that time in (and stick with it).

 

7.  Get help.  Learn to delegate and if you have helpers that can do the little things for you, by all means, ask for their help.

 

Just because we lose routines during the summer doesn’t mean that we can’t get things done.  Follow these 7 tips and you’ll be seeing more checks on your to-do-list.

 

 

Are You Their Friend or Their Parent?

Do you find yourself giving in too often and expecting less of your kids to alleviate conflict in your home?  Maybe your permissiveness is getting in the way of their natural growth.

“Many parents today misunderstand their role,” says parenting expert Leonard Sax, MD, PhD, a family doctor in Chester County, PA.  “They often see their role as protecting their son or daughter from disappointment.  They are providing a safety net in situations where it might be wiser to let the kids experience the consequences.”

For many parents, life can be hectic and the last thing you want to do when you get home is start World War III in your kitchen.  But not following through with discipline or routines can create lazy, spoiled, children without schedules or responsibilities.

Here are a few tips to help you in your parent/friend relationship with your child.

It’s important to co-parent.  Be sure your partner is on board and work together to set appropriate routines and limits and then stick to them.  Stand as united parents so your kids aren’t confused or end up pitting you against each other.

It’s often easier to give in to your child’s demands rather than create more conflict.  Stick to your guns and follow through when a consequence is set.  Minor things can slide, but it’s crucial to your credibility as a parent to follow through on the things that matter.

You may think you are helping your child by doing their chores or letting them out of something.  They may even use schoolwork as an excuse and you may feel that you have to honor that excuse.  But throughout life there will always be excuses, and there will always be good, better, and best choices your child will have to make.  Just because their teacher assigns it doesn’t mean that it trumps what you as a parent have asked.  It just means that your child needs to prioritize their time so that they can accomplish both tasks.

We all want to be liked.  And being a parent is no different.  We want our kids to like us.  However, especially around when puberty hits, you need to be aware that there will be times when being a friend isn’t the best role to take as a parent.

That isn’t to say that you can’t be their friend.  Just the opposite.  At this age it is imperative that your kids know that you love them and are on their side no matter what.  But, they also need to know that you have certain expectations for them when it comes to family rules and responsibilities.

Effective co-parenting, following through with consequence, sticking to your routines and limits, and not letting them get away with excuses, are all beneficial skills when it comes to parenting.

Show your kids that you love them by being their parent when they need one.

 

Read a similar article here:  The Benefits of Being Consistent

 

 

 

 

 

Kids & Money- a 5 Part Series with Bill Handel- KYI 640AM Radio

The Number One Health Concern for Kids

 

 

Among parents in the United States, what’s the number one health concern for their children?  Hint, it’s not drug abuse or smoking.  It’s obesity.

Obesity among children is causing a broad range of health problems, that in the past, weren’t seen until adulthood.  These include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, elevated blood cholesterol levels, negative body image, depression, and low self-esteem.

The former Surgeon General, Richard Carmona, stated the severity when he said, “Because of the increasing rates of obesity, unhealthy eating habits, and physical inactivity, we may see the first generation that will be less healthy and have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.”

Here are the facts:

  • Obesity rates among preschoolers ages 2 to 5 have doubled in the past four decades.
  • One in five children are overweight or obese by the time they reach their 6th birthday.
  • Over half of obese children first become overweight at or before age two.
  • Only 25% of children ages 2 to 11 years old consume three servings of vegetables a day, and less than 50% consume two daily servings of fruit.  (the recommended daily intake)

 

I don’t know about you, but personally, I am shocked at those numbers.

How, as a society, did we become so leisure about our health?

I suggest we make a goal this summer to become more active, eat healthier, and live longer.

So, what can we do about it?

1.  More Physical Activity – Encourage 1-2 hours of physical activity throughout the day, including outside play when possible.  And exercise with your children if possible.

2.  Less Screen Time – For children age two and older, the amount of screen time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics is 1-2 hours per day and for children under 2 they suggest no screen time at all.

3.  Eat Healthy – Serve fruits and vegetables at every meal.  Eat more green foods and limit fried foods.

4.  Limit Sugary Drinks – Encourage your child to drink water throughout the day.

 

Other free tools and resources can be found at www.HealthyKidsHealthyFuture.org.

Let’s all get up off the couch, get healthy, and be happy!

Swimming Safety Tips

Along with warm weather reports come reports of accidental deaths by drowning.

The hard facts – drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children between the ages of 1 and 4.  And it’s the third leading cause of death among children.

With facts like that, we have to wake up and do our part so it doesn’t happen again.  Here are some water tips to help us beat the odds.

 

Be aware – Back yard pools aren’t the only culprits when it comes to drowning.  It only takes 2 inches of water and a couple of minutes for a child to drown.  So, be sure to supervise other sources of water like bathtubs, toilets, decorative ponds, and even mop buckets.

 

Be prepared – Parents have a million things to do, but learning CPR should be on the top of the list.  Being prepared can give you peace of mind.

 

Learn to swim – Teach your children to swim and if you don’t know how to, take lessons yourself.

 

Buddy up –  Always swim with a partner.  A buddy can help out in case there’s an emergency.

 

Know your limits – Don’t swim for longer or in deeper water than you are comfortable with.  If you are a good swimmer, keep an eye out for your friends that may be struggling.

 

Swim in a safe area – Look for lifeguards and watch out for dangerous water conditions.  If you do get caught becoming too tired, float until you can get help.

 

Be careful when diving – Always check for rocks or other hazards beneath the waters surface.  And pay attention to “No Diving” signs.  They are there for a reason.

 

Even though we stress to be safe around water we hope you still have a great summer in and out of the water and especially HAVE FUN!!!